Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teach Us to Pray

"Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came and said, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'

Jesus said, 'This is how you should pray:

'Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don't let us yield to temptation.'" Luke 11:1-4 NLT

I don't know if you're like me, but at times, do you feel that we use prayer as a sort of magic trick? We go along and do things that we know isn't acceptable and then pray to get out of trouble. We want something that's really cool, we pray that we can get it or if we go ahead and get it, we have to pray to have funds to pay for it.

Is this what God created prayer for? Prayer was created so that we could talk and communicate with our Father in heaven. Not to be a magic wand that allows us to, on purpose, do unpleasing things to the Lord and then we pray and "poof" it makes them disappear. It's not the genie in the lantern that you rub and get your wishes granted.

Prayer is a very special gift that God has given us because He loves us so much and wants us to talk with Him. He made us to be a people that needs to communicate. He wants to hear our fears, needs and troubles. When we do do wrong, He wants to us to come and ask for forgiveness.

But He also loves to hear our praises and declarations of love and thankfulness. It doesn't need to come through a third party or special words. Prayer is to come from your heart and soul. An unique, intimate date that is between just you and your God.

So, how do you pray?

"So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrews 4:16 NLT

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Dry" Spells

"The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring." Isaiah 58:11 NLT

Have you ever run through a "dry" spell in your faith? Those times when you feel that you've experienced all you can experience or God just doesn't seem real anymore? We all do. The world is full of people that, when times are good and things are going their way, they slip into a pattern that doesn't acknowledge God at all. But the moment something bad happens--BAM--they are all over God, blaming Him for everything that ever went wrong or is going wrong, with their lives. They get angry at Him and make statements like, "Well, if this is what happens when God is in my life, I don't need it!" or "I knew it! God is just a big bully up there in Heaven, getting His jollies off by screwing with my life!"

To be honest, yesterday as I was sitting with Jordan in his hospital room and trying to process what his diabetic journey is going to mean to him and our family, I got angry. Maybe not to the extent to what those statements above went to, but I guess I felt a little betrayed by God. Here is Jordan, just starting out on life and he gets hit with this life changing event. Yes, it's controlable but it still isn't nice. LORD, we're good people, constantly trying to do Your will, serving Your people and YOU allow this to happen. How could You!?

I'm not proud of those feeling but they are all apart of the human cycle of emotional grief. I was grieving for my son and the challenge ahead of him. I was grieving for what I couldn't protect him from. But then the Lord showed me this verse, "giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength." I felt He was telling me that He understood what I was going through. After all, He is a father too. But He has not and will not ever leave me or our family. There is some purpose for this new journey and He will be with us all the way--restoring us with His words, spirit and support people He will, and has brought, into our lives.

When you are experiencing your "dry" spell, how do you respond? Do you blame God and turn your back to Him, or use this opportunity to dig deeper into His word for strength and knowledge? Do you get on your knees and pray for wisdom and lay your situation on His altar for Him to take care of or do you shun Him and handle it yourself?

"Dry" spells happen to everyone--how you handle them is the key. Turn to God, not away. If you do, your life will once again "be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring." Only it will be better and stronger than ever before!

"See, I have written your name on the palms of My hands." Isaiah 49:16 NLT

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Gracious Hand of God

"I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the LORD my God was on me." Ezra 7:28 NLT

As I am writing this, my son Jordan is lying in a hospital bed. We found out last night that he has Type 1 Diabetes. Sounds scary. And it can be. For the rest of his life, he will have to be on insulin. But God is good and His grace is everlasting. What my son has, we can manage it and he can live a long and productive life. But what about the parents that have children with cancer or other uncurable situations?

When Peggy, Amanda and I were sitting in the waiting room at Valley Children's, we were surrounded by mothers and fathers who had to bring their child in here for some reason. Were their hearts and spirits all aflutter as mine was? Were they battling their fears with the knowledge that God is in control even if I feel that I am not? Did they even know God?

I praise my God that even in the midst of fears, blood tests, IV's, He is there--with His ever-present hand, graciously on my shoulder--squeezing it ever so gently, as if to say, "Yes, I know how it is to worry over a son. To love one so much that you would gladly say, please, take me, spare my son this pain. I've been there. But trust Me, Eric, father to father, I will care for our son."

When you are in a scary spot, where do you turn? Sometimes in the midst of our pain, confusion or saddness, we can't see God or what His plan is. But remember this, even when we can't trace His hand, we can trust His heart. He wants only the best for us and that may include going through some tough times.

"And praise Him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me..." Ezra 7:28 NLT

Please, as you think of Jordan, pray for him. We should be home Wednesday. I humbly thank you. Eric

Friday, April 24, 2009

Doubt and Fear

"I cried out, 'I am slipping!', but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer." Psalm 94:18,19 NLT

I had to be truthful with myself. I was stressing out over some issues. Some of the issues were ministry related. There are a lot of hurting people. Some of the issues were within my family. I was not living in the moment, but thinking way down the road. My thoughts were filled with doubts, and the doubt led to fear.

I preach faith in God. I tell everyone that will listen that Jesus loves us. I read the scriptures that affirm my faith in Christ. Yet, I had to admit that I was afraid and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever felt like it all depended on you?

I think the human condition leads us into feeling self-reliant. While God has given us seeds of greatness, our hope is really in Him. I can fall into what I call the "savior complex." I have to fix it. Then I realize that I can't fix everyone. This can be overwhelming and self-destructive.

I confessed my anxiety to my wife and the Lord. The next morning the Lord comforted me with this scripture;

"I cried out, 'I am slipping!', but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."

There will be many issues in life that will try to bring doubt and fear into our souls. Acknowledge how you are feeling to yourself, God, and another person. Give whatever is weighing on you completely to God. Don't continue to nurse the issue.

"The Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide." Psalm 94:22 NLT

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Trashing Floor

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Luke 3:16,17 NLT

In Biblical times, after wheat was harvested, it went to the trashing floor. Wheat was a main staple of people in the ancient world. The wheat kernels would be beaten off the stalks and then tossed in the air with a winnowing fork to separate them from the chaff. The heavy grain would fall to the trashing floor as the lighter chaff would blow away. We don't use the word "chaff" very much today. Chaff means, husk or worthless in comparison to something greater.

John the Baptist said that Jesus would use the power of the Holy Spirit and the fire of refinement and judgment, to separate those that would follow Him or reject Him. In Christ followers the power of the Holy Spirit and the fire of refinement is like being wheat stalks on the trashing floor. God separates from us those things and areas of our lives that are chaff. What is eternally valuable stays with us, what is worthless by comparison, blows away.

Do you feel like you are on the trashing floor? What areas of your life is God refining? What "chaff" is He beating away? It's hard to be on the trashing floor. You feel out of control. You see areas of your life falling away. When you are in the middle of the trashing floor, remember that the One who holds you, loves you. His goal is not to leave you beaten, but to remove those things from your life that are keeping you from receiving the fullness of His love and grace.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Generation Next

"We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders. For He issued His laws to Jacob; He gave His instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands." Psalm 78:4-7 NLT

I was talking to a member of our church. She has a great little daughter. I asked how her daughter was doing. The mom told me she was doing well. Then she added; "She's getting it." I knew what the mom meant. Her daughter's relationship with Jesus was maturing. She was understanding the love of Christ. She was applying the ways of scripture to her life.

Every generation faces new and difficult challenges. When I was growing up, civil rights, Vietnam, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, were facing us. Today we live in a world in crisis. The things that we have been putting our hope in are crumbling around us. Each time we turn on the nightly news, or log onto our home page, we see the continual decline of our world.

What does our youth put their hope in? What do they, the next generation, have to look forward to? What assurance of well-being do they have? The only solid, eternal solution is in Jesus Christ. Be honest. What else is there? What has, or is working to solve the problems of our world and human condition? In what ways are you investing in the youth of today?

The next generation needs something to put their hope in. That "someone" is Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Straight Talk

"Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy." Proverbs 27:6 NLT

I was proud of my daughter. She was burdened deeply in her heart. She had a dear friend that was making some unhealthy choices. I told my daughter that if what her friend was doing was bothering her, she should talk about it with her friend. She did. It took a lot of courage because my daughter hates confrontation. But it had to be done.

We owe it to each other to speak the truth in love. It's easy to flatter people. It's much harder to confront in love. When we do not confront, we can build up hurts, anger and bitterness. We can contribute to the self-destruction of others. Our ability to confront in love, will be our ability to mature in life.

There is a danger when we confront others. If we are not careful, we can become critical and blind to our own issues. When we are the person being confronted, we can become hypersensitive. We need to give and receive constructive criticism in love.

I have a friend. He seems to feel that it is his duty to let me know when I've put on weight. I don't like to hear it, but I need to. If I have to be true to myself, I must admit that without friends that confront me in love, I can become self-deceived and lazy.

So, are you ready for some straight talk?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how He did it. BecauseHhe never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again,
item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through.
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message

We are in a long distance run in our life of faith. Our time on this earth is short. Our heavenly hope is eternal. I like to run and lift weights. The principle of building muscle and building faith is the same. When you tax your muscles, your body steps up to the challenge and builds more muscle. The more you work out, the stronger you get. It's the same with your faith. The more you exercise your faith in Jesus, the more faith muscle He gives you. When you stop working out you lose muscle. It's the same with faith.

I like to run. The more I run, the farther I can go. Day by day, month by month, year by year. The more I run, the stronger I get. When I quit running, my physical conditioning gets weaker. When I start up again, I don't start by running six miles a day. I have to walk a couple of miles over a period of time. Only after a time of walking can I begin running again.

The Bible tells us to cast off every weight or hindrance that slows us down and makes us less effective in the race of life. How do we do this? By staying focused. We keep our focus on Jesus. When anything tries to stop you, or slow you down, focus on Jesus.

The problem for most of us is that we become comfortable with some of the weights and hindrances in our lives. We accept and even get friendly with the things that weaken and slow us down.

It's time we strip off everything that gets in the way!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Nation Under God?

"Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34

We say, "One nation under God"--but are we? I look at what we have accepted as a nation. We have denied God. We have taken His name off our money, out of our schools and holidays. We have accepted sexual immorality, addictions, self propagation, injustice, murder of babies, theft, and the list goes on--as standard operating procedure. We vote on issues that the Bible forbids as sin. We put ourself in God's place. We are reaping what we have and continue to sow--a life that excludes Jesus.

But the challenge is not only with our nation, but in the Church. We have accepted godlessness. We determine which scriptures we accept and those we don't, so we can support our own theology. We have taken Christ off the center of the throne, and placed our desires, our sinful desires, on the throne. We reject the word of God for the teachings and lifestyles of fallen man. The Church that Jesus bought with His blood, has compromised itself.

I think it's time that we wake up and follow Christ.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Total Committment

"Then He said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23 NIV

I was conversing with a friend today. We were both challenged by our conversation. We were confronted with the fact that many times we say we are totally committed to Jesus, but our words and actions prove differently. Jesus gave us one hundred percent of Himself on the cross, and by His Spirit in our lives today. He promises us eternal life. He has given us a living hope. He also calls us to give ourselves to Him totally.

We say that Jesus comes first in our lives. But does He really? I have to ask myself if I let other things and people come before Jesus? Do the demands of my ministry, family, and friends come before Jesus? Does my bitterness, pride, and other sins come before Jesus? What about my agenda? Where have I sacrificed my relationship with Jesus for other things?

When we put Jesus first in our lives we have the resources of heaven available to us. When we love Jesus first and foremost, we can truly love ourselves and others.

So, has Jesus been given a backseat in your life? Is He even in the car?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 7

"But the Lord says, 'The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.'" Isaiah 49:25 NLT

1. Pray for the children and youth that are in your life, town or city.

2. Pray for the schools, teachers and school administrators in your town or city.

3. Pray for wayward youth that need godly guidance & direction.

4. Believe in the Hope of heaven and the reuniting of parents with their children.

And finally, give God thanks for the Resurrection! He is risen!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 5

"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.'"
Luke 10:2 NIV

We live in an exciting time as the Kingdom of God is advancing around the world through the missionaries and their mission fields. For the Kingdom to advance, it requires a move of the Holy Spirit and the Church to serve. The mission field in your life is your workplace, school, club, circle of friends or the far reaches of the world. God has called all of us to serve Him.

1. What is your ministry?

2. What or where is your mission field?

3. Pray for God to reveal His call to you.

4. Pray for Chrsitian workers around the world.

5. And thank Him for the miracles He has and is doing daily.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 4

The Lord Appears to Solomon

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there." 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NIV

When we humble ourselves before the Lord and approach Him in reverence, He promises to hear and answer our prayers. Notice that repentance is the key. God said He would bring healing to the land of His people.

1. What sins are to struggling with?

2. What "land" are you needing God to heal? (Relationships, health, emotions, or spiritual.)

3. Ask God for the mercy and grace to help you repent.

4. Ask God for forgiveness and healing for your "land."

5. Please always remember to thank God--prayer & praise should go hand-in-hand.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 3

Thanksgiving and Prayer

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:18-22 NIV

I think that most of us have too small a picture of ourselves and Jesus. Therefore many of us walk in hoplessness and defeat. The world seems overwhelming. But the Bible says that we are more than conquerers in Chrsit. Pray like Paul for God to open your eyes to see Him and yourself through His eyes.

What obstacles cause you hopelessness and despair? Pray for the truth to set you free!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 2

"Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:7,11-13 NIV

God promised to bless His people. Notice that He instructed them to pray for their city and it's prosperity.

Pray today for the prosperity--financially and spiritually--of the merchants and businesses in your city or town.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Passion Week Prayer--Day 1

The Bible says that our prayers are like incense or sweet aroma that is pleasing to the Lord.

This week as we reflect on the suffering of Christ as He made His way to the cross, let us do so in prayer. We have the opportunity, privilege, and responsibility to pray to Almighty God.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray. Delight yourself in the presence of God. Let His waves of mercy and grace wash over you.



Jesus at the Temple

"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' He said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.'

The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things He did and the children shouting in the temple area, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' they were indignant.

'Do you hear what these children are saying?' they asked Him.
'Yes,' replied Jesus, 'have you never read,
'From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise?'"
Matthew 21:12-16 NIV

The first thing Jesus did was to reestablish the temple to it's intended purpose, to be a House of Prayer. He did this by driving out people and things that did not honor God and therefore had no place being in His house.

The Bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells within us individually and corporately. What is the Holy Spirit driving out of you? What things are hindering you from a deeper and closer relationship with Christ Jesus?

Remember that hands that held the whip are also the hands that were pierced with nails for your salvation.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Christ-Centered Life

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of His glory."
Isaiah 6:1-3 NIV

One of the identity markers of New Life Christian Fellowship is being Christ-centered. That means that Jesus is the center and focus of our lives. Every decision, thought and action, must put Jesus at the center. That takes intentionality on our part. It also takes the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Jesus must be foremost. How we respond to each other, our world, our hopes, dreams and challenges, all must come under the Lordship of Christ.

Jesus cares for us. He loved us enough to lay down His life for us. He rose on the third day to give us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. He is more than able to care for us. Our response should be to honor Him in all we do.

Our world tries to distort our focus. Satan tries to distort our focus. We can put the economy, taxes, crime, self-advancement, and problems on the throne of our souls. But when we intentionally place Christ first in everything, we find that His glory and grace fills every area of our lives.

As we approach Easter, it's easy to get distracted with eggs, bunnies and brunch. We can focus on Good Friday, and forget Resurrection Sunday. The grave couldn't hold our Lord down. Our world and it's challenges are not greater than the love of God in our lives.

So, who or what is the center of your life?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spirit, Soul & Body

"May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV

When we come to Christ Jesus for salvation, I think some of us sell ourselves short. We accept the grace of God as it relates to salvation, but not to our entire being. We believe Jesus will forgive our sins, and receive us into heaven. We believe in eternal life. Spiritually speaking, we are set. But what about the rest of us?

We are comprised of a spirit, a soul, and a body. Many of us neglect our soul and body. Emotionally we don't grow up. We live bound up in hurt, insecurity, fear, doubt, depression, and so on. We neglect and even abuse our physical bodies. I look around the church and see obesity, disease, and just a general lack of care for the amazing bodies that God has given us. The attitude is like we have just given up.

God's grace is sufficient for not only our spiritual well-being, but our emotional and physical well-being also. Why not receive God's grace today for your entire being? If you are wrestling with an emotional issue, talk to someone that can help walk with you through the healing process. If you are struggling physically, change your diet. Go for a prayer walk.

Make the change today for wholeness in Jesus. Treat yourself as the temple of the Holy Spirit!

"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it."
Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How do You See Yourself?

“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.

“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future."
Acts 26:15,16 NLT

This passage provoked me today. I was reading in Acts about Paul being on trial for following Jesus. The above statement stopped my reading. Jesus said that He appointed Paul as His servant and witness. Think about it. Jesus hand picked Paul and then commissioned him to tell the world about the hope of everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

I have to ask myself if I see myself as a servant and a witness to the good news of salvation in Jesus. The Bible says, that we are chosen by God to share the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ. But do I? Do you?

Do I see myself as a servant of Jesus? Or do I view Jesus as my personal attendant, my genie in the lamp?

What about my witness? Could you look at my life and tell that I have something that the world doesn't--Hope. Am I exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit in my life? Can you see love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control in me?

What about you?

"Yes, I am sending open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me." Acts 26:17,18 NLT