Monday, August 29, 2011

We all need Encouraged!

Romans 1

 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 

I have been worn out and frustrated quite a bit over the last month. Being exhausted and frustrated are not a good combination. But, I am ENCOURAGED by my friends. When things aren't going well you can always tell who your real friends are. They encourage you and they jump in and help.  Without the encouragement of my wife, daughters, secretary, my CMA buddies, and some wonderful co-workers, I would be a wreck! 

These people have done wonderful things to make me stronger. They have pitched in to help. They have listened. They have encouraged me to move forward. As Christians this may be one of our highest callings. It is not always easy to live in a sinful world. It is not always easy to deal with people who do not share our own values and convictions. It is not easy to stand up for what is right. God has sent us fellow christians to help us through these times. He has sent us to encourage and to be encouraged. We all need to work together in this life. It's not a one sided transaction. It's mutual. We need to provide mutual encouragement. 

Lift someone up today. Pray for them. Listen to them. Offer a kind word. Thank them. Lend a hand. What ever it takes to help a fellow believer, do it! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Smash mouth Football

Acts 1 8 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.”

If God were a football coach he would play smash mouth football. What I call smash mouth football is about using your power to run over the opposing team. I think football is meant to be played in the trenches. I think all lineman should wear high top black shoes, all games should be played on real grass, and it shouldn't be illegal to hit someone hard. That is smash mouth football. That is pure football.

God sent us the Holy Spirit so we can witness using "smash mouth witnessing". (I think I have coined a new term). He gave us the spirit and his power so we could go through all the world and witness to his love and saving grace. He doesn't want us to use flowery language, he doesn't need us to be great orators, he doesn't need us to have a degree in theology. He just wants us to tell it like it is. He wants us to share what the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ has done in our lives. Not only does he want us to do that, he has given us the power to do it and be good at it. We don't need to have cute slogans or quaint sayings. We don't need to be fluent in "Christanese". We don't need to be ordained. We just need to be ourselves. Being ourselves with God's power backing us up, is more power than we could possibly ever need. Old fashion, smash mouth witnessing, is about being on the offensive. It's about looking for the opportunities and attacking with everything we've got. It's about throwing away all inhibitions and letting the spirit give the words to say and the actions to do.  People need to know God. They need to be saved by the power of Christ. They can't and won't do that unless we go! Go! Go! Go!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Words aren't enough

Psalm 150

 1 Praise the LORD.[a]
   Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
   praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
   praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
   praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
   praise him with resounding cymbals.
 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
   Praise the LORD.

This chapter gives us a variety of ways to praise God. All sorts of instruments and even with our bodies (dancing). One of the things is doesn't say is praise God with our mouths. Now don't get me wrong. We should certainly praise God with our voices. But it is not enough to Praise God with our words. 

Sometimes our words are not enough. We can tell someone we care but it's more important that we take action to show them. We can tell someone we love them, but what way do we actually demonstrate that love. Sometimes words aren't enough. Sometimes we need to act. When we act to back up our words, the words mean so much more. 

You've heard "Actions speak louder than words." Well I think this chapter does a wonderful job illustrating that Praising God is more than just words. Actions speak louder than our word when it comes to praising the Lord of the Universe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble!

Psalm 149 

4 For the LORD takes delight in his people;
   he crowns the humble with victory. 

It's not popular to be humble. Our society values people who are arrogant and confident. It doesn't matter if they really know what their talking about. As long as they act like they do, people  believe them. 

In reality, the humble are the most confident people we could ever meet. They don't have to throw their power around. They don't have to have all the answers. They don't have to be right all the time and they aren't afraid to ask others opinions. What the world needs now is Humility and Humble people. I think God must know how rare it it to be humble. That's why he rewards those humble people with victory. Wouldn't it be great to have leaders who are humble. Can you think of an industry, church, school, or community that wouldn't benefit from a Humble Leader?

As the song says, "Oh Lord It`s Hard To Be Humble Lyrics

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
when you're perfect in every way.
I can't wait to look in the mirror
cause I get better loking each day.
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
but I'm doing the best that I can.

Wow, It's hard to believe someone could write that, even for fun. We all need to be more humble. We need to serve others and do it from the humility of our savior. Oh, Lord help me be humble because I'm not perfect in anyway. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Psalm 148

 1 Praise the LORD.[a]
   Praise the LORD from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
   and you waters above the skies.
 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
   for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
   he issued a decree that will never pass away.
 7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
   you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
   stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
   small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
   you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
   old men and children.
 13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
   for his name alone is exalted; 

We visited a church over in Woodburn today with CMA. IT was a great sunday school time and church service. Stephanie was sitting in church and all the sudden her arms started swinging like a crazy woman. Then I realized she was swatting an annoying fly. Now that I read Psalm 148, I realize this "small creature" was just doing his job, praising the Lord. Stephanie was interfering with his worship. I'm sure she doesn't see it the same way.

It is mentioned 13 times in 14 verses that all things should Praise the Lord. David covers it all in these verses. He covers everything above, below, alive, and not alive. It should be pretty clear, we should be praising God. I don't think he's just talking about Sunday morning Praise. He's talking about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,  praises to the creator of all things.

Praising God through all things is easier said than done. Take it straight from a sinner's mouth, it's not easy, but it is necessary. These verses don't just say praise the Lord when things are going well. It doesn't say we can skip the praises when we are grumpy. It doesn't say we don't need to Praise the Lord when we are depressed. It simply says Praise the Lord! Through all things, we must Praise the creator of all things. We don't do it to feel better or for any of our purposes. We Praise the Lord because he is Lord and he deserves the Praise of all things, including us. He deserves the Praise regardless wether we feel like it or not. PRAISE THE LORD!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Strengthen my Gates!

Psalm 147

King James Version (KJV)
 12Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
 13For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
 14He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
 15He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.

I think this is kind of an interesting verse. God wants to protect us from this world. He knows the evil that lurks outside our gates. Knowing that he wants to protect his own, then why does he count on our "Man-made Gates" to protect us. The verse says he strengthens the bars of our gates (to protect us.) He doesn't need our gates to protect us. He certainly has the power to thwart any attack. Yet, he still uses our gates.

God wants us to do everything we can to protect ourselves. We need to build the gates. He will take what we build and make it better. But, he wants us to build the gates. People who choose to do nothing because they depend on the Lord, are wrong.  God wants us to be active in our own lives. The Lord will take whatever we do and make it better. If we do everything to be the best teacher we can be, he will take that effort and make us better. If we guard our hearts from the dangers of porn, drugs, and alcohol, he will be faithful and give us the BETTER tools to do that. If we work hard to remain faithful to our spouses, he will reward that work with a stronger relationship. If we work hard at our jobs, he will bless us with the ability and opportunity to succeed. God never wants us to sit idly and wait for his action. He wants us to act and then he joins our action.

God will never abandon us. He will never give us more than we can handle. He knows the gates I build are good but not good enough. He knows in order to get the protection I need, he needs to intervene. God rewards us for our efforts to do his will. We are sinful people. The harder we fight sin, the more strength he gives us to win the battle. He takes what we do for his kingdom and magnifies it for his purpose. God is with us. He will strengthen our gates.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Psalm 146

 1 Praise the LORD.[a]
   Praise the LORD, my soul.
 2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
   I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
   in human beings, who cannot save. 

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
   on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Who do you trust? It wasn't too long ago we, (not me!), were glued to the TV for the Royal Wedding. I am proud to say the only part I saw was highlights on the news. Would you put all your trust in Prince William? A lot of people would. How many people do you know that you would "blindly trust"? 

Put your trust in God. He is the only one we can truly trust. God is not going to depart. He will not die and return to the ground. He will not let us down. His plans will happen. He is your help. He is your hope. TRUST GOD!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Too Tired!

Psalm 145

Psalm 145[a]
    A psalm of praise. Of David.
 1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
   I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
   and extol your name for ever and ever.
 3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
   his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
   they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
   and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
   and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
   and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
 8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
   slow to anger and rich in love.

Too, tired to make any comments. The words always speak for themselves anyway. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Power vs Powerless

Psalm 144

Of David.
 1 Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
   who trains my hands for war,
   my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
   my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
   who subdues peoples[a] under me.
 3 LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
   mere mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
   their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Back in the day, war was fought by hand. Hand to Hand Combat was the largest part of a mans weaponry. It could have been a sling with a stone thrown by hand. War could have been fighting with a sword. It could have been fighting with a spear. War was ugly and physical. Nowadays war is antiseptic. It is long range and is done with electronic weapons and bombs from miles away. So these verses don't have as much meaning as they used to. We don't know much about shields.

I'm not a fighter. I remember getting in one fight at school when I was in early middle school,  it was hand to hand.  Now most of my fights are with words. There is the same power struggle with words as you have with fists. You don't have muscles to flex, you have position and power. The only way for someone to WIN a war of words is if one person gives in. In our society that usually happens by the person with the least amount of power. The lowest man on the totem pole very rarely wins. That doesn't mean the person with the power is right, but POWER beats the POWERLESS. The one exception is when God is on your side. 

God is the great equalizer for the lowly vs the powerful. A person of low standing who believes in the Lord has all the power they really need. They don't need spears, swords, slings, guns, bombs or any other weapon of war. The greatest weapon you could ever have is God himself. "If God is for us, who can stand against us." There are many times in my life I feel powerless. It is easy to get depressed losing battle after battle to the powerful. But, take heart. I know who wins in the end. Praise God he is victorious.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who's the enemy?

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.
 1 LORD, hear my prayer,
   listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
   come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
   for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
   he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
   like those long dead. 

4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
   my heart within me is dismayed. 

Who is the enemy? Do you have enemies? I certainly have people I disagree with. There might even be some people out there that want to see me fail, who take joy in my toils, problems, and hardship. But they are not the enemy. 

Today I had the privilege of listening to someone who has met the enemy. Today, I spent all day at Life Bridge Church. They hosted the event called Cross n' Dagger. This is a motorcycle / bike show outreach. It is a wonderful event. The church hires a secular band and runs the event like all SECULAR Bike Events. It just happens to be held at a Church on Sunday. They still hold services (4 of them today) but no real pressure is added to attend these services. Today Brian "Head" Welch, former lead guitarist with KORN was the speaker. Brian knows all about the enemy. He has seen the enemy and confronted this elusive enemy head on. Our number one enemy is OURSELVES! It's not other people, it lies within is us.....Our Sinful nature. 

Brian gave a powerful testimony today. He spoke how he had everything, million dollar recording deals, grammy's, fame, girls, everything. Yet, he was miserable. He fought drugs, an abusive marriage, and a life that was keeping him from being the father he wanted to be. He couldn't take who he was becoming and what he was doing to his daughter. He then came to know Jesus. He didn't change and then find Jesus. He found Jesus and then was changed by the grace of God! His powerful testimony and the power of the Holy Spirit changed peoples lives today. One of those people gave up his drugs on the spot. He will forever be changed. Many accepted Jesus! What an awesome day.

If you are interested in hearing more about Brian "Head" Welch, he has a book, "Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story". I bought the book today and will read it soon. Regardless what you think about his music, his outlandish tatoos.(all of which were added after he accepted Christ and have Christian themes.),  he is being used by God to save people from their worst enemy...............themselves.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please just Listen to me!

Psalm 142

    maskil[b] of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
 1 I cry aloud to the LORD;
   I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out before him my complaint;
   before him I tell my trouble.
 3 When my spirit grows faint within me,
   it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
   people have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
   no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
   no one cares for my life.

If you don't know the story, David wrote this when he was hiding in a cave. He was hiding from Saul who was out to kill him. He was alone and miserable. Stephanie and I went to Wind Cave National Park on vacation and took a tour of the cave. As caves go, this one was uneventful. It didn't have the great stalagmites or stalactites like Carlsbad Caverns. It was pretty, but not awe inspiring. Most caves are dreary and depressing. When we were at the deepest part of the cave tour, the ranger shut off all the lights. I have never witnessed such complete darkness. I put my hand inches from my face and couldn't see it. It was weird having lost the sense of sight. But, I became much more aware of the sounds of those around me.  I could hear everything.

Thinking about David in this cave made me think about a conversation I had on Thursday with a good friend. I hadn't had a very good week. I wasn't being hunted down like David, but I certainly felt alone, miserable and tired. My friend sat with me and just LISTENED. He hardly said a word. He occasionally acknowledged his support and once in awhile spoke some words of reassurance. But, he didn't solve my problems. (He can't!) All he did was listen. His listening meant more to me than he could ever imagine.

Sometimes all we want is to be heard. Sometimes all people need is a good friend who is there to listen and by listening they lend their support and comfort. Oh, that I could learn to listen like my friend. Praise God he sent this great man into my life at the right moment in time. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blowing Smoke!

Psalm 141

A psalm of David.
 1 I call to you, LORD, come quickly to me;
   hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense;
   may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

We don't talk about incense much any more. I don't think I've ever been to a church that burns Incense. I'm sure some churches still do this, but I haven't been to a service which does. In the 60's incense got a bad name and it seems it never made a come back. The Bible talks of it's use often and it nearly always ties it with prayers.

It is such a relaxing vision when we see "smoke" or incense gently rise in the air. But, it is not just smoke. It is also the aroma that fills a room. The "Smoke" of the incense is seen for only a brief time, but the aroma is around much longer even though it can't be seen.

Just like Incense fills a room, our prayers should fill Heaven. There should be a continuous prayer with our Lord. He doesn't just want to see the smoke, he wants to smell the aroma of a lasting prayer life. When we pray only at times of hardship, or when our stress level is high, prayer is like the temporary smoke. But, when we pray continually, as we rise, as we rest, as we walk through our day, God can enjoy the aroma of our prayers. God will listen no matter what, but it is his greatest desire to be continually involved in our life. Praise God he loves to hear from me when I'm mad, when I'm frustrated, when I'm happy, and when we are sad. God loves the aroma of our prayers. May our prayers be more than smoke and fill Heaven with their aroma.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

No Comment!

Psalm 140

 1 Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers;
   protect me from the violent,
2 who devise evil plans in their hearts
   and stir up war every day.
3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
   the poison of vipers is on their lips.[b]
 4 Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
   protect me from the violent,
   who devise ways to trip my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
   they have spread out the cords of their net
   and have set traps for me along my path.
 6 I say to the LORD, “You are my God.”
   Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy.
7 Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer,
   you shield my head in the day of battle.
8 Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD;
   do not let their plans succeed.

My Mom and Dad taught me, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." I can't think of anything good to say, so "No Comment".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Evil Thoughts!

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
 1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me. 
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways. 
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely...................
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ok, I am still struggling personally. My mind is going a hundred miles an hour and I am fighting "Evil Thoughts". Don't panic. I'm not talking REAL evil thoughts. I'm not talking about doing something stupid or committing some heinous crime. I'm talking about thoughts that Loving Christians shouldn't have. I hope I'm not the only one that's had evil thoughts. I imagine all of us have had thoughts we are not proud of. I am guilty. God knows. 

We can't hide our thoughts from God. We shouldn't even try. God knows our thoughts when we wake up and when we lie down. He knows our anxious thoughts when we wake up in the middle of the night and can't sleep. He knows us. He made us. He knit us in the womb. Every fiber of our being was created by him.

So what do we do about those offensive thoughts? 

How do we get rid of them? 

We ask God to lead us in the better way. We ask him to re-direct our thoughts to him and his ways. I need to be in constant prayer for the Lord to redirect my offensive thoughts. God and I have had some long conversations. I have and will continue to talk with God about my thoughts. I don't use "Church Pew Language" or "Christianese". I don't use any "thees" or "thous". We have a conversation like I would have with my best friend. When I am so angry and I can't even speak to anyone, I always know I can "unload" on God. I share my anger. I share my frustrations.  I share my "evil thoughts". Nothing remains hidden. He's ok with that. He can handle it. He's God!

Open your heart to God, invite him to heal your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts. He knows your struggles. He will heal you. 

I expect to be healed!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The end of a rotten day!

Psalm 138

Of David. 1 I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
   before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
   and will praise your name
   for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, 

for you have so exalted your solemn decree
   that it surpasses your fame.
3 When I called, you answered me; 
   you greatly emboldened me.
 4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
   when they hear what you have decreed.
5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
   for the glory of the LORD is great.
 6 Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
   though lofty, he sees them from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
   with your right hand you save me. 
8 The LORD will vindicate me;
   your love, LORD, endures forever—
   do not abandon the works of your hands.

Most of the things I post in this Blog are positive and hopefully somewhat uplifting. But, life isn't always like that. I am sure every one of us can look back over this year and remember a rotten day. Some have probably had several and others have had only a few. There are sometimes in your life you have a lot of rotten days, one right after another. Sometimes you can go months with nothing but sunshine. Today was a rotten day. The details aren't important. It just was.

It's at times like these I have a hard time opening the Bible. I just don't feel like it. But, it is also at times like these that I really NEED to. So I did. Then God provided the words I needed tonight. If you follow this blog you know I am going through the Psalms. So, the verse today wasn't planned for my rotten day. I didn't go an search it out, God put it in front of me at just the right time.

God is FOR us ALL THE TIME. He knows all our troubles. He knows our pain. He knows about our "Rotten Days". For those who call on his name, read his word, pray from our hearts, he will vindicate us. He will speak to us. He is with us. He is faithful/ He is not just by our side, he is within our heart. No one can defeat you when the hand of the Lord is with you. Praise God for he is good!