Monday, November 30, 2009

Needless Worry

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Peace and unworried go hand-in-hand. Worry and lost peace also go hand-in-hand. Have you noticed that? You feel it in your spirit, your mind, your heart. It may seem silly, but there are times when I don't even realize that I am worried until I clue in on my stomach. When I am worried, my stomach gets this, what I call, a nervous feeling. It feels agitated. and when I feel that, I realize my peace it gone also. I just don't like it.

This verse is so awesome. I wish I could remember it during those times. The Lord gave us our solution for those times when we are worried--don't and pray. Sounds so simple doesn't it? For us humans, it's not always so easy, is it?

I went through this last night. I don't know why I've been worrying on and off so much lately--but I have. I finally went to a quiet place and just cried out to my God that I didn't understand why I was in this state of spirit. Why I think that I have given Him my worries, my confusion and prayed for Him to take them go away. And then,when I least expect it--poof!--there they are again, stealing my peace and my joy.

When I left my quiet place, I did feel at peace. I was peaceful and joyful all day until a small incident happened right before I left work. Poof! Back came the worry that a friend was irritated at me. Poof! Back came the insecurity, the worry that they misunderstood me and I wasn't given the chance to make it right. Poof, Poof, Poof!

Then came this verse tonight. I NEED to claim it. If you are in a similar boat, you NEED to claim it. Our Father is SO awesome that He has a way out for us--prayer. Constant prayer is the only way that we get through these growing times of worry. Claim His promise--His peace guarding our hearts when we pray--share ourselves with Him--and thank Him for what He has done.

I know that this worry phase will be over soon--in the meantime, I will continue to praise my holy Father--thanking Him for this learning experience. The same can be for you. You know that you will get through this. Praise Him for what you are learning, for Him being there to keep you focus on what all of this is for--refinement. Our God is an AWESOME God--don't you agree!

Friday, November 27, 2009


"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." Colossians 3:16 NLT

Yesterday was the official day of Thanksgiving. And it is good that we have a day on the calendar that reminds us that we do have so much to be thankful for. No matter where we are in life, we need to be thankful--don't you think?

I don't know if you have ever heard the saying, "God is good, all time. All the time, God is good,"--we say it in our church almost, if not every, Sunday. During this Thanksgiving season, driving the many miles that I did, I've been thinking of a new verse--"Be thankful, all the time. All the time, be thankful."

When do you feel thankful? Do you feel thankful just when things are going good and life is going that way you want? There are no challenges, no problems, no unwanted situations. It is so easy then. But what happens when there are challenges, problems and unwanted situations? Do you feel thankful then? Honestly, what do you feel?

It's not easy to be thankful all the time. Look at the beginning of our linage. Adam and Eve had a whole garden to be thankful for--all but one tree. But what happened? Were they thankful? Maybe at one time. But in the end, they didn't want anything but the one thing that they weren't suppose to have.

Being thankful all the time is not easy. It takes work. Especially when things are going wrong. But have you thought about how many miracles have come out of hard, trying times? How you have grown spiritually, emotionally, enduring hard times? How, hopefully, your relationship with your God has been strengthen and you've grown closer?

I do not like hard times, but without the hard times, I would not be the person I am. What about you? Be thankful, all the time. All the time, be thankful.

Have you thanked Him lately? If not, why not do it today?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boldly Hope

"We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)" Romans 8:24-25 NLT

Have you ever wondered what the word 'hope' means? In Noah Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language is states that hope: (n.) A desire of some good, accompanied with an expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable; an expectation of something which is thought to be desirable; confidence; pleasing expectancy. In Easton's Bible Dictionary it states that in Romans 8:24, the word 'hope' means: It is joined to faith and love, and is opposed to seeing or possessing.

I was talking to a Christian friend the other day and she made the comment that she 'hoped' that her and her husband can pull through this tough time they are experiencing right now. And that got me thinking. I wonder if hope is like faith--you know it's there even if you don't see anything tangible--but just as with faith, it seems that you should claim it, doesn't it?

Hope is wonderful and it is there and we need it. But just to sit and say, "I hope this happens or that happens....." seems a little wrong. It seems like we should treat it like faith--state it and boldly claim it. "If it is the Lord's will, I know what I hope for will come to be." Don't you think?

Have you ever needed to have something to hope for or in? You know that you can always turn to your Father in Heaven and boldly place your hope (& faith) in Him. Just place yourself into His loving hands and He will take care of all your hopes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our Gentle Fortress

"But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress." Psalm 59:16 NLT

We live in a scary world right now. As you turn on the TV or the radio, you hear about some sad person going on a shooting rampage, the unemployment rate is sky high, people are losing their homes, children are doing things that we wouldn't even think about doing--the list goes on.

That is what is so amazing about this verse. Oh, I know, the Bible is full of such amazing verses, but this is the one the Lord showed to me this morning. It's such an amazement to me that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that we would need a verse that reminds us that even in all the craziness--whether in the old testament times or now--we have His unfailing love, His strong, gentle arms to wrap around us and keep us safe.

You know, craziness and uncertainty isn't always a worldly thing. It could be just a private, spiritual, personal thing that you are going through.

I don't always do well when there is a change in my life. It doesn't matter whether it is a good change or a bad change, I get very insecure. Don't ask me why, it just is. I eventually adapt to it but in the meantime, I'm in turmoil--and that's what I'm going through that right now. I fight the feeling of uncertainty, of not quite knowing how my place in life or the friendships developed are going to be affected by this change. I've been laying this insecurity, unsure feelings, at His feet for a week now, but it's still there nagging at me. And then the Lord brings a verse like this to me, I am so humbly grateful. What an AWESOME God that loves us so much that He meets us where we need Him.

I share this with you only so that you hopefully will see that nothing is too little or too great for our Lord to want to take care of it for us. He desires and is delighted when we give to Him all the things that we fear, our insecurities, our uncertainties, feelings that we may not even understand--and allow Him to do with them as He sees fit. But be warned--when we give them to Him, you MUST leave them with Him. It's so hard for us to let go, even of our garbage. But we must. Fight the urge to 'help' Him. He doesn't need it.

Our God is the strongest, gentlest and most gracious fortress you will ever need. Just praise Him and love Him and have faith in Him. He will do the rest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"John said to Jesus, 'Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”
But Jesus said, 'Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

John was a part of the inner circle that ministered with Jesus. But he didn't get it. He saw a guy doing a miraculous act of kindness in the name of Jesus and he told him to knock it off. Why? Because the man wasn't a part of the gang.

Segregation,in the Church goes way back. I wonder how often why draw a line in the sand with our brothers and sisters? How often do we compare, judge, criticize, and destroy another person or churches ministry because they are not a part of our merry little band? Conservative and charismatics, traditional and non-traditional, we just seem to be unsupportive of each other.

When you consider the mighty moves of God, it is most often when churches are in unity. Where are you at on the issue of unity?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross."
Philippians 2:5-8 NLT

This is a classic passage describing God's love for us and the good news of Jesus Christ. God left the glory of heaven, put on our skin, paid the penalty due us, and gave us access to heaven as children of God. He knows what it is like to be us.

This passage also speaks to a profound relationship principle. The principle of incarnation. It's about putting on the other person's skin and looking at life through their eyes. Not viewing life as you think the other person should, or how you view their situation, but through their eyes. It takes humility, understanding, relationship, and willingness.

I use this principle in counseling, especially marriages. I try to get spouse to view issues through the eyes of their spouse. I ask them not to assign malice or make assumptions. Based on an objective perspective, how does their spouse view the issue? How might that make them feel? What does the spouse value?

This principle can be used in all relationships. Once when I was going on a job interview, I made a study of my perspective boss. It helped me to communicate more effectively. When I got the job, it helped me to serve him better, and lead to a promotion for me. I try to practice this principle with my wife Peggy. I've learned through failures and communication what is important to her. For example, I might like affirming words and gifts. But Peggy likes quality time and acts of service. When I spend time with her, listen to her, it tells her I love her. My completing a project around the house tells her I love her more than buying her a gift.

Practice the art of incarnation. It will enhance a good relationship. It may save a relationship in crisis.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48 NLT

Jesus had just told his followers that he was going to be betrayed, rejected, and killed. Yet, they didn't get it. They had selective hearing. They were consumed with selfish ambition. Who among them was the greatest? Jesus answered them in a strange way. He picked up a child.

In Jesus' day, children were the lowest in the social order. They had no rights. They were considered the property of their parents. Jesus said that in accepting the lowliest, the humble, and the vulnerable we welcome him. This is counter cultural. It is kingdom culture.

Followers of Jesus are called to follow their master. Jesus welcomes and loves everyone. Status in the eyes of the world is irrelevant. Jesus says to be great, don't climb the ladder of success. Go low in the attitude of a servant.

Jesus came to us as a servant. He gave his life for us. He calls us to be humble. To love "the least of these."

How do you measure greatness?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Struggling with Fear?

"I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always." Psalm 121 (The Message)

Are there times when you are scared? Times when you feel anxious? I do.

I used to think that I couldn't admit to having fear/anxiety because it might be seen by other Christians that I didn't have enough faith--that my walk wasn't as close as it should be.

But as I read more and more in the Bible, God showed me that everyone experiences those feelings at one time or another. It really has nothing to do with your walk, necessarily--it's just called being human. The apostles, King David, even Jesus, experienced fear at one time or another. It's what you do with it that is important.

Our God, our Father, is so very gracious. He sustains us in the midst of any fearfulness, anxiety, sadness we may be feeling--just as He is with us for every joy, praise and happiness feeling we feel.

So when we have those moments of fearfulness, of anxiety, please remember this psalm. Pray and give those feeling to Jesus. He, "guards your very life. He guards you now, He guards you always"--trust Him with all of you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are You a Dog or a Cat?

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 NLT

We have three dogs and three cats. Bobby, Curly and Biscuit are our dogs and Harry, Fluffy and Daisy are our cats. Whether our dogs are on their run or loose, when we call their names, they come flying from where they were not suppose to be. They could be over visiting neighbors (which they know is against the rules) or laying on the front porch, but they know their names and our voices and come wholeheartedly.

Now our cats, on the other hand, are totally opposite. Oh, they know their names and our voices, but they may or may not decide to respond. They can be looking right at you and just stretch, and stare deep into your eyes, as if to say, "Hello. Are you possibly talking to me?"

Now, I have a question for you. Are you a dog or a cat? When you hear the Lord calling, do you come at any expense? Do you eagerly say, "Yes, Lord, I'm all yours." Do you stop everything you are doing and give God your undivided attention? Or do you say to Him, "You know, I'm a little busy now, could you check back with me in 10 minutes or so?" Do you say to yourself, "Oh, doughnuts, I'm really not in the mood right now. I'll get to Him when I get a chance."

Or do you hear Him at all?

In this busy, noisy world, there are many excuses for not listening to that "small still voice". There are so many things that we allow to drown out any conversation between our Lord and ourselves. But have you noticed, as I have, that the more we don't take time to answer the Spirit phone, the more persistent He becomes?

I don't know about you, but I want to respond as a Bobby, Curly or Biscuit when the Lord calls. I want to drop everything and come running into His arms and drink in His precious words. How about you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Power of a Name

"For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

'The stone that you builders rejected

has now become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12NLT

Have you noticed that these days, parents name their children names that are not commonly used as names for humans. For example--Hunter, Forrest, Apple, Sierra--the list could go on. Why? What's wrong with Mary, Fred, David, John, Susan? Nothing. It's just that the trend is to name your child a name that is unique, memorable. A name that will get them far in life. That is strong and solid.

Do you ever wonder what the name "Jesus" means? This is what Easton's Bible Dictionary says, "Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men. This name denotes that Jesus was divinely appointed, commissioned, and accredited as the Saviour of men."

Wow! Then you read this scripture--"God has given no other name under heaven by which we are saved." Talk about a name that is unique. That is strong and solid. That will get you far in life.

The part that I keep coming back to is this: "There is salvation in no one else!" No one else. Salvation isn't necessarily in what we do or don't do. It's not in our acts. It's in HIM. It's in the holy name of Jesus. Isn't that freeing? Does it help release you from the yoke of: "I'm just no good. I will never be the 100% perfect person I need to be to be saved. So why even try?"

Please accept this. Please know that all you need to do to have Jesus Christ in your life is to call His Name. Cry out and confess you need HIM. That you are sorry for your past and you want Him in your future. Jesus Christ will gently, graciously wrap His loving arms around you and pull you into Him.

The power of a Name. You can stop searching, you're home!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


"But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world." 1 John 4:4 NLT

A wonderful occurrence happened this past Sunday. We were holding a Baptism class. There was a man and a couple of women. Well, the husband of one of the women came in with their 9 year old son. He and the son sat down and started listening to what the teacher was saying. The teacher had just gotten to the part where he was asking those present if they wanted to say the sinner's prayer. All of a sudden the husband got a little irate and stated that he knew "all this stuff" and his 9 year old son was too young to understand it. He got up and took himself and the son out of the room.

Service started. When the service was over, one of the core leaders felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around and who do you suppose was there? That's right--the 9 year old boy. As the the man leaned over to the boy, the boy whispered that he wanted to accept Jesus into his life. Isn't that awesome!

I don't know about you, but I think that at times, we are like that father. We want to protect those we love, protect ourselves. We get scared of something new, some new concept or maybe we aren't really sure of our own salvation--so we react. And the reaction isn't always to our benefit or to those around us.

But Jesus didn't let it happen that day. He wanted that child to be in His kingdom and he is. God is such an awesome Father. He loves and wants all of us to be His personal child. Not just a number or a body--but a true child. He wants to know every thought in your head, every fear in your spirit, every joy or hurt, in your heart. He is a Father that knows every hair on your head. Can anyone love you as deeply and completely as that?

Just as the boy on Sunday, if you are feeling that tug on your heart and spirit to have a relationship with Jesus or if you already have one--a deeper one--please, please, don't let anyone or anything keep you from pursuing and fulfilling that desire.

It is the one decision in your life that you will NEVER regret making!