Archive | April 2015

Fire in my soul

Matthew 5:14-16 – “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidNeither do men light a candleand put it under a bushelbut on a candlestickand it giveth light unto all that are in the houseLet your light so shine before men, that they may see your goodworks, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. “

Who doesn’t love a good campfire? Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows while chatting and sharing life? I love it. But sometimes it takes a bit to get the fire going. It starts out as a tiny little spark that grows into a tiny little flame. And then after the flame gets going, you have a roaring fire that provides light and warmth to all those around it. The little flame that started the fire will certainly brighten a small area but really provides no warmth. It takes a large flame to get those tasks accomplished. 

Jesus told us here in Matthew that we are to be a light. When I read these verses, I think about a fire. Since we don’t use candles to light our world any more, it can sometimes be a challenge to grasp this concept, but a fire, oh, we all get that one. Let’s say that you are out camping. It is getting dark and you need something to cook dinner on and you need something to give the campsite some light. Are you going to take a small piece of wood and light it and set it up for the campfire? No, that’s ridiculous! You are going to prepare the site, gather the dry wood and make sure that you have enough to get through the night. Why would your spiritual light be any different?

If you are going to be that city on a hill, that light of the dark world, you are going to need to do some prep work. You don’t want to be a tiny little flame. You want to be a big blue blaze that people can see for miles. You want to be the kind of fire that warms the heart of any one and every one. But that takes work and it takes work to keep it going. You can’t just light a fire and expect it to keep burning. You have to feed the fire and tend to it. You have to make sure that the flame doesn’t get smaller and the brightness doesn’t fade. 

And guess how you do that? Reading your Bible and praying. Developing that ever present and all important relationship with your Savior. Surprise! Bet you don’t see that one coming! Remember, if God thinks it is important He is going to tell us over and over again to get it through our thick skulls!

So, let me encourage you today to tend to that fire that started when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. It will only burn well if you tend to it. 

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Squirrel!

Psalm 37:23,24 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”

We have seven young people graduating from high school at our church this year! Seven! That’s crazy for such a small congregation such as we have. 

Last night was youth night. It is the night where the youth take charge of leading the worship service. Sometimes we have one of our young men give the devotion or pastor plays a game with the youth and the the rest of us. But last night, pastor gave the sermon. 

As followers of Christ, we all want to have our steps directed by Him. It is our desire to follow after Him and do the best we can. Have you ever seen the Disney movie “Up”? I love that movie. There is a dog that has a voice transponder that interprets his thoughts as words. Too cute. Anyway, he will be walking along and see a squirrel and then he is off following that squirrel. For me, this kinda sounds like my life sometimes. I’m going along, doing what I’m supposed to do and then – squirrel! I’m off the path, messing around in something that I shouldn’t be in. 

You see, when we are following Christ the way He is going, the path is straight. You don’t go backwards. You only go forwards. Now, that doesn’t mean that the path won’t be bumpy and hilly and hard to travel at times. But as long as you are following Him, you will always be safe. It is when you go chasing squirrels that gets you in trouble. 

But keep in mind that you may fall. All children fall. However, just because you fall, doesn’t mean that Jesus is going to keep on going without you. No, He will stop all that He is doing and come pick you up. You are His most important thing. He loves you so much. 

We were asked last night to come and share our experiences with the young people. One thing that most of  the stories had in common was we all failed. We shared that there has been some point in our life where we have not been successful. Failure is something we all face. But failure is something that we cannot let get us down and keep us down. Failure should be looked at as an opportunity to grow. And sometimes that is hard. We will have tough times in our life. Tough choices. Tough things to deal with. But we cannot let the devil use this as his playground. We have to keep our head up and call out for our Savior. 

So I want to encourage you this week to remember what you have been through, how you got through it and where it is taking you now. Life is about success and failures. It is how you deal with each of them that defines who you are. 

Paper Cut

James 1:12-15 – “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

Last night, we were working on setting up an event for church and I got a paper cut. Not just me, but pastor did as well. And he loathes paper cuts. Not sure why….

Anyway, it’s just a tiny paper cut. It shouldn’t hurt too bad, right? Well, let me tell you, it is making typing difficult this morning. It hurts!

But it’s just a tiny paper cut. But what if I didn’t take care of it? What if I went to work today and some tiny germ got in my paper cut? What if it got infected? What if I had to go to the doctor for some medicine to make it better? But the medicine wasn’t received in time and the infection began to spread. And what if I had to get my finger amputated to try and stop the spread of infection? But what if the amputation was too late and the infection had already gone to my heart and I died – all because of a paper cut?

Sound rediculous, right? I hope that little tirade made you laugh this morning.

But just like this little paper cut seems like no big deal, we seem to look at sin in the same light. It starts off a just a little look. No big deal. We can handle just a little taste. But then before you know it, we become more and more overtaken by it. It begins to consume our thoughts, our actions and our future. It takes over.

However, we do have an option – Jesus. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times – we don’t walk this journey alone. He is ready and willing to help us conquer any thing that comes our way. He is also ready and willing to conquer our past. He wants to make all things new. But He will not invade your walk. He wants to be invited. He doesn’t help where He is not wanted. Remember, just like Jesus can take something tiny and turn it into a miracle, Satan can take a tiny bad choice and turn it into a catastrophe

So let me encourage you, watch out for paper cuts and tiny poor choices. Invite Jesus to walk with you today.

Pride

Proverbs 29:23 – “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”

I think every person who lives and breathes has an issue with pride. It effects us all – from how we look, to what we do, to how we respond to events in our life. Pride is an action word. It requires us to do something that shows that we have it in our life. It might be that we go fishing for a compliment on a new outfit or how much weight we have lost. It might be that we don’t ask for help in doing something because we think we can get it done ourself. It might be that we go out and spend way too much money on the latest gadget because we don’t want someone to have something we don’t. 

Pride can take many different forms but it always has the same result – failure. The failure might not be obvious but it is there. It may look like a form of sadness because you just can’t get it done. It may look like disappointment because you had been hoping that someone would notice your something new. 

But the interesting thing about pride is when it keeps you from seeing your mistakes. It keeps you from seeing where you could have done things differently. Pride inhibits perspective. None of us are perfect. Life is a journey with its ebbs and flows. But sometimes we need to stop and look back to determine where we could have done things differently so that we can avoid those mistakes in the future. Pride keeps us from doing just that. Pride says, “You did nothing wrong. It always works out. You don’t need to change anything.” You see, pride wants to keep you in the rut of the past. By admitting that there is a better way of doing something, you are admitting failure. Pride hates failure. 

You can choose to see things differently. You can choose to change. You can choose to admit that there just might be a better way to do something. It doesn’t always have to be the same way. You don’t always have to accept the way that things are being done. You might step on some toes by bringing this to light but that is between them and God. You just worry about your relationship and let them worry about theirs. 

The choice to distance yourself from pride is a difficult one. It makes you humble when you can see things from a different perspective. You realize that you are not perfect. But always remember, you know Someone who is perfect. And He is ready and willing to help you squash your pride and take on a new day. 

Friend Time

Revelation 3:29 – “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

We are planning to have a visitor this Friday night. One of my daughter’s little friends is coming over for some much needed friend time. So that means that I have to get my house cleaned up this week, not just straightened up like I usually do. It’s fun to have friends over to your house. You get to talk more freely and enjoy doing things together. You get to share a meal or two and just generally enjoy one another’s company. 

And then they have to leave. And it feels like a bit of a let down. You enjoyed your time together but it never seems to be long enough. I remember the days of having my girlfriends come over to the house for a sleep over. We planned all week what we would eat, what we would do, who we would prank call….you know, the important things! We would have so much fun, and then, she would go home and a sort of sadness would set in. 

Last night at church, we had a lesson in Revelation. When I read this verse, a sort of peace came over me. You see, Jesus is always at the door knocking. He wants to come and be a part of our life every single day. He wants to come in and talk with us. He wants to come in and share a meal with us. Any of this sounding familiar? Sounds just like a friend coming over, doesn’t it? But this is something so much more. Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” This friend that sticks closer than a brother is Jesus. He never wants to leave. He wants to be with you all the time. You don’t have to worry about being sad when He leaves. You don’t have to be concerned with Him betraying your trust. He is THE BEST FRIEND you could ever have. 

So today, open the door to your heart. Let Him in. Enjoy some sweet time together. And don’t worry about Him leaving. The only one that could possibly leave this amazing time is you. It is your choice to stay and be in that relationship or leave. He is always waiting for you.

In the grocery store…

Matthew 10:32,33 – “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before menhim will I confess also before my Father which is in heavenBut whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. “

Have you ever seen someone famous? You know, in a casual setting? That happened to me yesterday, or at least I’m 95% sure I am correct in who I saw. 

I was at the grocery store and saw one of the new soccer players on our MLS team. Not just anyone, the main guy, the most highly paid player on the team, the one the season is built around. This guy is a big deal in soccer. I saw him from a distance and as I got closer, he looked me straight in the eye and I knew who he was. I think he thought I would say something, but for lands sake! The man was grocery shopping with someone who looked like his mom! I’m not going to say something and (1) be wrong about who he is or (2) make a big deal out of him doing something we all have to do. 

But anyway, yesterday I found myself telling everyone about who I saw at the grocery store. When we see someone “famous” we tend to do that, don’t we? We make a big deal out of someone with lots of fame and money doing ordinary activities. 

My point is this – I have encounters with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ every day. Do I go out and spread that around like I do seeing a famous soccer player at the grocery store? No. Sadly, I do not. 

Jesus told us in these verses that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the Father. Well, by me not telling everyone about all that Jesus does for me on a daily basis, I am essentially denying Him before men. Ouch! 

You know, we need to be less worried about offending someone with our faith. I think a lot of the time that is what is holding us back. We are so fearful that we might offend that we don’t share our experiences; we don’t share our hope; we don’t share eternity. And I am just as guilty as the next person. I have people at work that need Jesus. And I don’t tell them like I should because I don’t want to upset our work relationship. How stupid is that?! I would sacrifice their eternity for a good day tomorrow. Yet, I know I will tell them about the soccer player yesterday. 

Let me encourage you today, speak out. Speak out for Christ. Let others know what He is doing in your life! 

The Crooked Smile

Hebrews 3:13-15 – “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

Last night, I had a pretty exciting thing happen to me. My daughter was in dance class. Usually, while she has her class, I go for a walk around part of the lake in the town that we live in. You see, the lake is located right beside her dance studio. There is a nice sidewalk and lots of people were out last night taking advantage of the beautiful weather. 

Well, I was moving along at a pretty good clip – my daughter’s class was almost over and I wanted to be back at the car before she was. Then I came upon this older man walking in front of me. He was tall but had a very pronounced lean to his left side. I could tell that he was struggle a bit just to get his walk in this night. He was looking at his watch like he had a goal to meet and it was taking everything he had to keep going. 

I just moved right on past him. But then, I heard a whisper across my heart. It was soft yet I could hear it loud and clear above the music in my ears. I was being told to go back and encourage that man. So, I began to make excuses. “I’ve got to get back to the car. I’m too far ahead of him now. I’ll look like a weirdo turning around now.” But the whisper would not go away. In fact, it got stronger. When I started to apologize for my sin, as I kept going, that is when the guilt set in and I did not want to deal with that. There was still time to follow this leading. So, I did.

I turned around and walked back to the man. I turned off my music and took out my headphones. When I got to him, I said, “I just want to encourage you to keep going. I feel that the Lord wanted me to let you know that you need to keep doing what you are doing.” You should have seen the smile on his crooked face. It was beautiful! He told me he was 72 and had been retired for a long time. He said he tried to walk every day. Sometimes he had to go to physical therapy to get his walk a little straighter but he always tried to walk every day. 

I know that God sent me back to that man to encourage him but he encouraged me as well. I was encouraged by his smile, his story and his resilience. But I was also encouraged by following God. It gave me smile that lasted tonight and even to today. 

You see, just like in the verse, it was easy for me to harden my heart. I could think of a million excuses not to turn around and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And I did for a time. But He wouldn’t let up. And I’m thankful that He didn’t. We ought to be out there encouraging one another more. By enouraging someone, you take the focus off yourself and see others the way Jesus sees them – someone in need of some lovin’. 

Today, I want to encourage you to listen to the whispers in your heart and do what He is telling you to do. Don’t fuss with Him. Do whatever He tells you to do. It may seem weird and/or our there, but what have you got to lose?  Remember, God takes the ordinary and makes them extraordinary by His grace and mercy. Just do it, sister!