Saturday, December 31, 2011

Be on the Frontline for Christ!

2 Corinthians 4

 1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

We are just hours away from ending 2011 and the hope of 2012. God has greatly blessed me with a ministry through CMA (Christian Motorcyclist Association). For the second year, I have been voted as Chaplain of our local chapter (Sonrise Riders). I'm not really worthy of this position, but God has placed me here for a reason. So I count it a blessing to serve this ministry. I have the great opportunity of mixing my passion for motorcycles, people, and God. How many people get to do what they love and use it for God? 

What ministry are you in? I have mentioned before that I'm not fond of New Years Resolutions. They are very rarely followed after the first week or month of the new year. But, maybe now is the time for you to step up your commitment to ministry. Do you have a ministry? I mean a serious ministry. Have you made a commitment to a group of people whose focus is solely to bring people who don't know Jesus to his saving grace? I know the first thing you'll say is yes, your church. I'm not discounting what your Church does. I love my Church and it is a key to my growth as a follower of Christ. But, how do you reach those people who will never even have a desire to step into a church for worship. Are you a Frontline Christian? I think we should all be frontline Christians. The Battle is out in the world. The Battle is with the homeless, the criminals, the drug users, the poor, youth, the single families, the bars, the fatherless, the lonely, and more. Where is your passion? What is it that you get really excited about? What ministry would you love to start or take part in?

Take this next week and pray every morning and every night for God to make it clear where you should serve. Earnestly search for a ministry. Commit to serving others and bringing them to know the saving grace God has brought to you. Being a part of a ministry is a very selfish act for me. I get so much more out of it than I put into it. The blessings are amazing. PLEASE COMMIT TO MINISTRY! Not in 2012 but right NOW!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Prayer for 2012

2 Thessalonians 2

 13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[b] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

2011 is winding down. Another year in the books. I always get nostalgic and sentimental this time of year. I get to take a little break from the busy activities at school and look at how God has blessed me. My greatest blessing is my wife and family. I should always thank God for them. I love my girls. Now that they're all grown, I don't get to see them as much as I want. But, we are able to stay in touch and I love hearing how God is working in their lives. They all are faithful believers and every time I turn around I can see God, clearly, at work in their lives.

So, as we come to the last few days of December 2011 and head into a New Year, hear is my prayer for them in 2012:

Dear Lord, Thank you so much for the blessings you have provided me. Thank You for Stephanie and all the love and care she gives me every day. Thank you for the blessings of 3 beautiful daughters. I ask that in 2012 they draw closer to you every single day. I ask you to provide them with your guiding spirit. Lead them away from evil and protect them from the dangers surrounding all of us. Give them wisdom in dealing with their families, co-workers, and the people they meet every day. May the focus all their energy on your purposes and your mission. May they be a witness for you to everyone they see. Keep them healthy and safe in everything they do. Be with my 2 son-in-laws. I pray they also draw closer to you. I pray they also focus on your will and they provide strong Christ-centered leadership for their families. Grant them the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job. I love them and beg your blessings for them. May you also be deeply involved in the lives of my grandchildren. Help them be good leaders in their schools. Help them to make good decisions and to continue to work hard as they grow in knowledge and wisdom. Fill them with the desire to know you more. Provide them with friends who also love you and know you. Keep them healthy and safe in 2012. Thank You Lord for providing all of us with your grace. We have no right to your love, but you give it anyway. Thank you for the gift of life and the future you have set before us. Praise God you are in control. Amen!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Letter for God!

2 Corinthians 3

New International Version (NIV)

 1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

As Athletic Director for a High School, I get asked to write quite a few letters of recommendation for students. If a student comes to ask me, it usually means he/she knows me and I know them pretty well. Most of the time I love writing them. Sometimes, it's not easy. I don't like students asking me at the last minute for a letter of recommendation, because I really believe in taking time to write a thoughtful letter.

Are you a good letter of reference for God? I know that's a strange question. But, when people see you as a follower of Christ, are you a good reference. When I write a letter of reference,  I have a process I go through. I like to look at how hard a student worked in the class room. I like to hear what coaches and teachers say about their effort. I like to go to practices and observe how hard an athlete works. I want to know what type of servant the student-athlete is. I want to see them interact with other students, teachers, and coaches. What type of relationship do they have with their parents and their community?

As we go about our daily lives, people are also observing us. As Christians we are being watched constantly. People want to see how we react to stress. People want to see how we deal with relationships. They want to see how hard we work for our Lord. What kind of value do we give to our faith? They don't look at your attendance at church. They don't listen to your words. They look at your actions. 

Our actions are a letter of recommendation for a relationship with Christ. Do people say, I want to have what he has? Or, do they say if that's what a Christian is, I want nothing to do with it. You are God's letter of reference. What kind of reference are you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God's Justice!

2 Thessalonians 1

6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 

God's justice is always perfect. The justice of this world is not. All you have to do is watch the news every night and it's easy to see that justice is not perfect in this world. The Bad guys win, sometimes. In the final days, the Lord's people will be victorious over evil. Those that caused trouble will get trouble. Those who serve will be served. I have a very finite view of justice. I don't know the things God knows. From time to time, I catch myself questioning God's justice. I don't understand how he can sit idly by while evil runs rampant. But, I'm always brought back to God's reality. God is just. God wins in the end. The illusion that we are losing and evil is winning, is just that, an illusion.

Praise God we have a just God! Praise God he loves me and promises justice in my life. Thank You Lord for your love. Thank You for your kindness and your Grace! Amen!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Equal to the task!

2 Corinthians 2

........ And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

Sharing the message of Christ is so difficult in this world. What are your motives? I don't think I have ever thought of winning someone over to Christ for profit. But, if you think about it, you can see why they might think you are. Are you more interested in preaching the gospel to the lost, or finding members for your church? Are we just trying to increase the $$ in the collection plate or are we really looking to have people know the love of Christ.

I love my church and all that it stands for. We have a great senior pastor and support staff. Still, I need to be careful how I promote my church to the lost. Is my church filled with perfect people? I know that answer is no. Do I portray them that way? I have to be careful about describing the people, the facility, or the many programs we attend. We need to be clear about our message. That message is not about us, our church, it is about the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

All of us are equal to the task of leading the lost to Jesus. We are made specifically for this purpose. God provides us everything we need to lead people to him. His planning is perfect and he dwells within us. Check your motives. Check your heart. If you don't like what you see, change it with the power of the creator. If you like what you see, you should already be out there working for the Lord.

In all things I will serve him!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Peace on Earth.

1 Thessalonians 5

 1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

This time of year it is so popular to share the saying "Peace on Earth. Goodwill to Men!" It is a noble wish to all on this planet. But it actually comes from the Bible: Luke 2:14 -- 
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

But the real meaning of this verse is greatly twisted by our SECULAR society. This verse is used as a christmas wish and I agree with that. But, like 1 Thessalonians 5, people can talk all they want about peace. They can take this time of year to wish for peace on earth. But, Peace is not possible for people living in darkness.  When you look at Luke 2:14 in it's true translation, you will quickly realize this verse reinforces 1 Thess. 5. The better translation of Luke 2:14 is :Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth Peace for those who favor God.

The world thinks it can be at peace by our own will. That's just not possible. Peace can't  come unless it's through Jesus Christ. People who live in darkness can not and will not know Peace. It doesn't matter if it's at Christmas or not. Peace is only granted to those who are in God's favor. God favor's his people! We need to be his. We need to love God. We need to  accept his son as our savior. We need to let people know the great peace which comes through that wonderful relationship with God, not through our own will and desire. Simply Love God and Peace on Earth will be possible!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Comfort for my Brother!

2 Corinthians 1

 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

I've never been without a job. I was thinking of that a few days ago while I was watching the news. The news channel was talking about the unemployed who have given up. We are hovering at 8% unemployment in the U.S. Yet, those numbers don't come close to speaking the truth. They don't tell about the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work. It doesn't tell about the UNDER employed, those who are working in jobs just to earn any amount of money because unemployment has run out. I'm almost embarrassed that I haven't ever been without work. I want so bad to extend comfort and hope to those people who can not find fulfilling and meaningful employment.  Why am I the lucky one and they aren't? 

I have a brother who is in this situation. My brother is a smart guy. He is a talented Christian man who cares deeply for people. He is and always has been a hard worker. He has degrees and education that are well beyond the average person. Yet, he is grossly under-employed. I want so bad to comfort him. I want so bad to be able to fix things for him. I don't want him to HAVE to receive comfort. I want him to get beyond the suffering he is going through. My experience doesn't give me any authority or credibility to comfort. I can't say I know what he's going through. I can't give him the hope that "this too will pass". But, I know someone who can. ....... the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles,.........

I feel grossly under-qualified to know what my own brother is going through and has been suffering for years. Yet, God and our Lord Jesus know of his suffering beyond what I will ever comprehend. He was beaten and crucified for no reason. He didn't deserve it. But, he did it so he could comfort my brother through his suffering. Eventually, my brother will come through his suffering, even though he can't see the end. He has hope because of Jesus. Eventually, he will be able to share that hope from deep within his heart. He will be able to share that comfort and hope with someone else, because of Jesus. 

I don't want this to sound trite and weak. I truly believe God is preparing my brother for great things. He will be able to comfort like very few people have. God knows what he's going through and stands with him now and forever. Praise God he is the Lord of comfort and hope. Praise God he will see us through all trials and suffering. Praise God that he gave up his life so we might be comforted for all of eternity. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Good Grief!

1 Thessalonians 4

 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 

Although this was Charlie Brown's favorite saying. It seems a little odd to say "Good Grief". They seem to be two terms that are completely opposite of each other. Grief can't be good  and good can't happen when you grieve. Right?

When my Dad died our entire family was filled with grief. My Dad was great. We missed him then and we miss him now. But, as a Christian, I grieve different than many. I have attended several funerals and "viewings". It is really different grieving for those who know the Lord and those who don't. Leaving the funeral of a follower of Christ has such a peaceful feel to it. It is such a comfort to know that your good bye is only temporary. We still grieve, but we have hope. I can't imagine grieving WITHOUT HOPE! We have a great example in Jesus Christ. Attending a funeral of a non-believer is so much more emotional for both believers and non-believers. One group was no hope for any future. The other group has no hope of any future that will include he deceased. There is a big difference.

The best way to grieve is with hope. The only way to have hope is through Jesus Christ. The thought of not being able to celebrate eternity with my wife, daughters, son-in-laws, grandkids, and friends, is nearly unbearable. So I have a choice, I can share the love of the Lord with them and hope to get them to build a relationship with Christ, or I can sit back and hope someone else shares with them. 

I don't know about you, but I can't sit idly by while all of these people die a meaningless PERMANENT DEATH. I have to do something about it. Will you? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tebow: Be strong in love!

1 Corinthians 16
 13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

Tim Tebow has taken the NFL by storm. He has been phenomenal on the field for the Denver Broncos. But, he is known more for his faith than his come from behind victories. Regardless of his skills at Quarterback, he is a great leader on his team and he wears his faith on the outside so all can witness. For this reason, he has become the target for taunting and ridicule. Here is a clip of a Detroit Lion player mocking his prayer.

Paul has something to say to Tim Tebow. 1 Corinthians 16:13,14. 13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

When someone mocks God like this, I just want to see God's wrath come down and justice done. I don't really expect it. God uses these situations to help us endure this sinful world. Tim Tebow is reaching more people today than I might ever reach in a lifetime. He is the focus of Christians and non-Christians across our country. For the rest of his life he will be under a magnifying glass. Can he hold up to the scrutiny? I can tell you for sure, Tim Tebow is a sinner, just like you and I. He is not perfect. When you and I sin, it's private, between us and God. When Tim Tebow sins, it will be on the national news.  I pray that Mr. Tebow will be on guard. He needs to be deeper in faith today than ever before in his life. He needs to continue to be courageous and strong against the forces of evil that pursue him.  But, the most important advice he will get is "Do everything in love." Even playing football. 

That's advice we can all take to heart. If we are persecuted at work, at school, or in play, we need to do everything with Love. We need to be strong in faith. We need to be courageous in the presence of ridicule and mockery. God is with us, he is our strength. He will be the victor in the end.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Best Stress Ball!

1 Thessalonians 3

 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Have you ever seen those stress balls? I have several in my office. Every Athletic Director event I go to, they hand them out.  I know why. Most people don't. I'm not sure how well stress balls work. I have used them and can't really tell the difference. One of the best ways to handle distress and persecution is taking courage from those who have gone through it. I have seen so many people go through the stress of job loss, illness, loss of loved ones, and problems at work. Yet, they still stand firm in their faith. Most of the time these "faithful followers" see a deepening of their faith. I am so encouraged to know that I will survive as long as I lean on the Lord. 

Thank You Lord for my brothers and sisters in faith. Thank you for our trials and the strength you give us. Thank you that we can be an encouragement to others by those trials. Thank You for helping us through trials and distress. Praise God for your strength and power. Amen!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I am what I am!

1 Corinthians 15

 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Can you relate to what Paul is saying? There have been many times in my life that I feel so inadequate for the task God has placed before me. I, too, look at myself of being unworthy. I can look back at opportunities missed or ignored. I can look back on selfishness that overruled the plans God has for me. But by the Grace of God, I am what I am. God's grace is so wonderful it has affected me in amazing ways. It is grace that enables me to get past my poor choices, my weaknesses and my sins. Just like Paul, it is grace that gives me the motivation to work even harder for the Lord. When I dwell on my inadequacies the Devil is pleased. But God's grace enables me to overcome and work harder for the kingdom of God. The Devil can't stand that!

That is the message we have to share with the lost this Christmas. God sent his son to Earth to make the greatest sacrifice he could. He wanted to demonstrate to us what his Grace was all about. Jesus didn't deserve to die the death of a criminal. We do! Yet, he took our crimes upon himself. None of us are good enough, yet we are all recipients of that same grace.

Thank You Lord. I want to serve you more today than ever!