Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Encourage a friend, "Hang in there!"

Ephesians 4

1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.4-6You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

Throughout my life I have had some great friends. I have always had someone to get me through the tough times. My wife Stephanie has been one of those people, longer than anyone else. I have had others. There are so many, if I try to name them all, I might miss someone. More important than the friends I've had, what kind of friend have I been? I'm not sure I've been as good a friend as the friends I've had. It saddens me to think about it. It's never too late!

This past fall I was going through a really tough stretch and I needed someone to talk to. A very dear friend was there for me. Now that friend is having a tough time. What do you do for a friend who needs you? When I have gone through rough times, all I really want is someone to listen. Most of the time they can't do anything EXCEPT listen. It is so important to just be there. You probably can't solve anything. You can't make the problems go away. The most important thing is to help them realize they aren't going through it alone. As we say at GHS, "We are ONE!" I will be there for this friend no matter what. I trust them. I love them. I believe in them and I am praying for them. I want nothing more than the problems to go away. Until they do, I will be in your corner. "Hang in there!"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Motives?

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3 NIV)

We had a great sermon on Sunday at CLCG. Pastor Stu spoke about why we don't get our prayers answered. He provided a list of things that get in the way. Here they are:

Unanswered Prayer is a Red Flag of a Potential Heart Problem-list of hindrances to prayer
Disrespecting your spouse (1Peter 3:7) 
Wrong motives (James 4:3) 
Praying against God’s will (1John 5:14) 
Ignoring the Bible (Proverbs 28:9) 
A non-generous spirit toward the poor (Proverbs 21:13) 
An unforgiving spirit (Matthew 5:23-24/Matthew 6:14) 
Lack of faith (Matthew 17:19-20) 
Paying unfair wages to employees (Malachi 3:5) 
Adultery (Malachi 3:5) 
Divorce (Malachi 2:13-16) 
Treating illegal immigrants poorly (Malachi 3:5) 
Cherished sin in our heart (Psalm 66:18) 
Posted by Senior Pastor, Stuart Kruse at 9:37 AM

Number 2 on the list, wrong motives. I constantly have to check my motives. Am I really wanting the will of God or just my own selfish will. Many of the hindrances to prayer are from wrong motives. Reflect deep inside. Ask the question, why am I praying for [this thing, person]?Pray silently for God to speak to you. I a, confident if you are earnest about searching your motives, God will fill you with his spirit and guide you to his will.

Even in ministry we have to search our motives. Am I doing it to save the lost or for my own kingdom building? Am I more concerned for how I look or Gods kingdom. Am I looking for blessings instead of being a blessing? God knows our hearts, he knows our motives. He just wants us to yield to him. Lord help us do everything for his glory, not our own

Friday, March 16, 2012

Just Pray!

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV)

I love to pray. I keep a prayer list to help remind me of those I want to pray for. I love getting prayer requests from our church and try hard to honor my involvement by truly praying for these requests. I have seen in my own life the absolute, amazing power of prayer. I have seen true miracles through prayer. I can look over all 51+ years of my life and give you example after example of God's faithfulness and Grace.

But, I am not a good prayer. I know so many people who just know exactly the right thing to say. Or better yet, I know people who the spirit has given the gift of public prayer. I do believe it's a gift. I know some people who are so self conscious of "How" they pray, they never pray publicly.This prayer of Paul's, to the Ephesians, is really beautiful. My prayers never sound like that. I am the perfect example that you don't have know all the right words. You don't have to be eloquent for God to honor your prayer and answer them. I am so thankful for that. I have gotten over being self-conscious about my prayers. I just love talking to the Lord.

God knows our hearts. He knows our prayers before we utter a single word. The words and the act is not important. We are given the gift of being able to converse with the God of the Universe. He WANTS us to come to him. He doesn't care how we do it. He just cares that we do it.

How do you feel about prayer? Do you avoid prayer because you don't know the right words? Just pray. It doesn't matter how. Just Pray. You don't have to be a biblical scholar. Just Pray. You don't have to be educated. Just Pray. Kings, Politicians, Lawyers,Teachers, Factory Workers, Moms, Dads, Teens, Children, Unemployed, Homeless, it doesn't matter who, Just Pray. Just Pray, JUST PRAY!

Sticks and stones!

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:3-6 NIV)

Do you remember "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me."?

I'm sure most of you have heard and also said it. It's not true! As a matter of fact, words are more hurtful than sticks and stones. Injuries from sticks and stones will heal. Injuries from hurtful words may never heal. I don't know about you, but I have said some pretty hurtful words before. Trust me, you can't take them back and now with the Internet social network sites and email, they are easier to say. It used to be people were pretty brave on the phone or on paper. Now they also have the web to hide behind. When hateful people say or post something it's makes a permanent "footprint".
Be careful what you post. Be careful what you email, the damage can be permanent. God wants us to tame our tongues or our posts, or emails, or tweets, or whatever else you do online. Remember you are a follower of Christ. Would he be proud of what you post? If not, don't!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I used to live there!

Ephesians 2

 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

I am not too far away from where I once was. Those of you who profess to be Christians know what I'm talking about. It has been more than 35 years since I gave my life to Christ. But, my actions and life haven't moved that far. You would think after 35 years, my sinful past would be a distant memory. Even though I have changed and continue to change for the better, I am still a sinner in need of the grace only God can give. 

God is changing me. He is working his perfect work in me but I am certainly not there yet. I still must rely on his great love, his rich mercy, and his grace. It's easy for me to forget where I've been and how far I have to go. I'm not the person I want to be and I can not wait for Christ to complete his work in me. Until then, I need to help others make the transition and begin the journey toward Christ. I want to take all I can with me. I need to have the same mercy and grace for the lost, that Christ has shown me. I am not better. I used to live where they are living right now. I have just accepted the perfect gift and have begun the journey. I just want them to accept the same gift and to begin that journey.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Christ is BUILDING my life one brick at a time!

 Ephesians 2 
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

My school is in the middle of a building project. In December 2010, our Community got behind the school corporation plan to build a new school. This past Spring we broke ground and now we are less than 4 months away from completing the first phase. We should be able to move in to the building before classes in the fall. Last week, i got to take a tour. It's so exciting. 

It has been great watching the building grow from the ground up. This past summer, it seems the contractors wasted so much time preparing the ground for the building. For the longest time, it looked like no REAL progress was being made. Now the building is really taking shape. The builders have laid a good foundation. The bricklayers have taken care to place each brick just perfectly. This building is awesome and I can't wait to put it to use.

Jesus Christ is our foundation. He is a whole lot more patient than I am as he builds my life from nothingness. I am so thankful for his patience with me. I am so thankful for his attention to detail. He is in no hurry, he meticulously builds my life one brick at a time. I am constantly amazed by the grace he shows me everyday. I am really excited for the work he's doing. Just like our new school, I can't wait to see the finished product.