Tuesday, December 31, 2013
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19 NIV)
In less than 16 hours we turn the page on 2013. People will celebrate tonight in many different ways. Stephanie and I have no plans. We probably won't even be awake at midnight. The New Year will come regardless wether we are sleeping or awake. The dropping of the ball in Time Square or the flash from 11:59pm to midnight will occur even as it am in peaceful slumber. God operates the same way. Regardless wether we acknowledge him or know his great love, he is always working. I KNOW this to be true because of my life.
For over 40 years I have known the Love of God. It is so fun to look back on my life and see God in every event. The love and relationship I have with my wife, the blessings of my children and grandchildren, the wonderul friends, and various ministries I have been a part of, all scream Gods love for me. It boggles my mind to know he loves me so much that he has filled my life with such joy and great people.
I want the same thing for all my family, friends, and people I meet. I pray that in 2014 you will come to know the fullness of Gods love, a love that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you will come to know God personally and begin to share that love with everyone you know. I pray that even in the toughest of times you will be aware of God. I pray you will know joy that overcomes pain and suffering. I pray you will experience laughter and relaxation throughout the entire year. Praise God for a great year and another miraculous year just around the corner.
Monday, December 30, 2013
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. (Psalm 27:5, 6 NIV)
God never promises a life free of trouble. Sometimes that trouble is minor. Sometimes that trouble is massive. He does promise to keep us safe. He is our shelter and even though evil presses in on all sides we are protected. Thank you Lord for getting me through all the rough times of my life. My joy is in you!
2013 has been a great year with very little trouble or stress in my life. I would count this as one of my best years. God has blessed me abundantly. I am embarassed by all the great blessings I have been granted. The highlights of 2013 include the birth of another grandchild, a great ministry year with CMA, a wonderful summer trip to California with my wonderul wife, a new adventure in Personalized Learning at school, and so many joyous times with my family.
I have been held safe and sound in God's dwelling place. I am thankful beyond words for the grace God has given me and my family. May we serve him every day during 2014.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)
Every year the hot topic between Christmas and New Years is "New Years Resolutions". I'm not a great fan, although I have made some resolutions. I always debate wether I should make a resolution. Just as popular as making resolutions is breaking them. I think most people have great intentions, but our weaknesses keep us from following through. Weight loss is the most popular New Years resolution. The next nine in the top ten are: quit smoking, learn something new, eat a healthier diet, get out of debt, spend more time with family, travel to new places, be less stressed, volunteer, and drink less. This is a noble list and most of us could comit to them. But, by the time February rolls around, they are all forgotten.
So, how do you keep a resolution? The American Psychological Association recommends three tips at keeping your resolutions:
1) tackle one behavior at a time
2) tell everyone about your resolutions
3) don't beat yourself up if you falter along the way
Good advice! Now let's try it on this resolution:
"Love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind!"
If you take the advice, this should be a doable New Years resolution. Start simply by praying to God each day. Do a daily bible study? It doesn't need to take a lot of time. Electronically you can have it sent do your phone! Share your new resolutions with everyone you know, but pick out someone to keep you accountable. Lastly, if you miss a day, don't panic, pick it right up and keep the resolution going. I really recommend to send yourself reminders often!
After time goes by, the time with God will be a key part of your day. Loving The Lord means spending time with him and getting to know him. It's up to you! Love The Lord you God!
Friday, December 27, 2013
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20 NIV)
The new year awaits us. In less than a week, we will start another year. It is my 54th and every year as long as I can remember, I have great hope for the upcoming days. My hope is in The Lord. Waiting is not a gift of mine. I am rather impatient. The Lord has helped me with patience and he has done that by giving me great hope. Yes, my impatience has lessened due to the fact The Lord has been my ever present help for the past 53 plus years. Whenever I have needed help or protection, he has provided. I am so curious how people survive without the assurance of help and hope.
I love the mystery of a new year. I love it's excitement and it's adventure. Praise God he is with me always. Praise God he supplies joy, peace, and grace in great abundance to those who believe and call upon his name. Thank you Lord for a great 2013 and the magic to come in 2014.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— (1 Peter 2:4 NIV)
I read a quote today from Billy Graham, "Aethists and Agnostics find fault with Christians but not with Christ." Christ came to this earth over 2,000 years ago. He was rejected by man. Now those who do not follow Christ reject him because of us. Our sinfulness gets in the way of so many people accepting Christ. Until, they realize we all come from the same broken place, they can't understand the true saving grace of Christ. Until we as Christians stop judging and making ourselves superior to those that are not followers, the world will never change.
We need to be more about loving people than hating sin. I am so saddened by our focus. I am also saddened by our putting one sin above another. We are all sinners and equally sinful to our perfect father. We are also ALL precious to him. So much so that he gave his son to death on the cross that we might spend eternity with him.
Praise Hod for his patience with us and our sinfulness. Lord, help us reach others. Help them to feel your love through us. May we be filled with your a Holy Spirit as we serve and witness to the lost and forgotten.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NIV)
It seems like life is full of obstacles. We spend our lives overcoming those obstacles any way we can. I have battled with my own obstacles including issues at school, finances, and family issues. But, I have to admit, my obstacles are so small compared to most people. I praise God he has blessed me beyond all I could ask for. When obstacles have been placed in my path, I have overcome them. Not by my own strength, but I have overcome them through the power of Christ.
As a child of God, I am so fortunate to be defended by the creator of the universe. I feel his presence through good times and bad. I have seen his protection in my life. Anyone can witness that same protection by turning their life to him. Open your heart to Jesus and see the wonderful changes before you.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11, 12 NIV)
Christmas Day is drawing to a close. The presents are all unwrapped and the joy of this great day is over. Tomorrow we begin the trek through the winter doldrums. The lack of sun and warmth,the fighting with the cold and snow turns into a major battle. Spring is a long way off and it's easy to lose your zeal. What ever you need to do to keep your focus on Christ, your spiritual fervor, do it!
Serve The Lord with all your heart, especially during the toughest of times. Start a new bible study, add a new time to spend with The Lord, or take on a new ministry. It is so important to keep your faith fresh, joyful, and full of hope. The Lord will provide hope and the Holy Spirit will work inside. I have had so many times where it felt like I was just going through the motions, but God has provided the life giving joy through new and unique ways. Never lose contact through prayer and never stop reading the word. These two areas seem to be the greatest factors in fighting the boredom or monotony of serving. I know it sounds sacrilegious to say serving can be boring. I have found it is my own fault when this happens and it only comes from lack of time with my Lord. Be genuine in your daily walk with The Lord. Open up and ask for zeal when it starts to wane. God honors your prayers and desires when it comes to serving him.
Keep you spiritual fervor, your Zeal for sharing the message of Christ, our sinful world needs us! Keep the joy of the birth of our savior on your mind and in your heart every moment of everyday. Treasure this wonderful gift and share it with all you meet.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18 NIV)
We are less than 24 hours from Christmas morning. It is the most peaceful morning of the year. No rush to get ready for school, no shopping deadlines, and nothing on the schedule except family. The whole world takes a break and one big collective sigh. We get the joy of watching others open gifts given with out sincere love. I can't express the joy I get out of giving my family gifts at Christmas. I love the surprise and the joy at the unexpected gift.
Love is the center of Christmas. God sent his son to live among us. He came to earth just,like we did. He grew up like we did. He lived a life sharing love and speaking the truth, just like we should. We need to get beyond the words and take action, like Jesus did. We need to take hope to the hopeless. We need to share the truth and real love which is not judgmental. Christians are good at speaking the words and not walking the walk. We need to provide the unexpected gift of sacrifice to help and serve others. The joy of giving works for the giver and the river of the gift. It's a win win for everyone.
The greatest gift you can give this Christmas is to put your love in action. Go out and serve out of love and dedication to the new born babe, Born in a manger so that we might all be saved.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, (Ephesians 6:7 NIV)
Are you a servant? Do you work a job or do you serve your company? Are you a teacher or do you serve your students? Are you a parent or do you serve your kids? Are you a husband/spouse or do you serve your spouse? Every task we undertake should be from the heart of a servant.
We are to serve wholeheartedly. Everyone we contact, every day, we should serve like they are The Lord. I'm ashamed to say I fall far short of being a true servant. I am more interested in my own agenda than to serve others.
We all need to change and look at Christ for the leadership of a real servant. Yes, a true leader serves those he leads. A true servant looks to the needs of others before his own. A true servant gives sacrificially. It is not a popular position in society. Servants are looked on as weak. God looks at the servant as strong and rich. True service is directed by the Holy Spirit. It is the prayer of Christs followers that leads to serving his kingdom. Service is not dreamed of in the heart of man, but in the heart of God.
Dear Lord, Search my heart, give me the heart for service. Help me to see the needs of others ahead of my own. Provide the opportunities and the willingness to be used for your purposes and not my own. Forgive me for my weak faith. Forgive me for inaction and neglect of those in need.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24 NIV)
I am a law abiding citizen, except when it comes to speeding. I am definitely a fast driver. I am always amazed at how fast people drive. Very few people obey the speed limit. I usually like pushing 7-10mph above the posted speed limit. Most people are at least going 5above. It said that most officers won't pull you over for that speed. So why don't they post it for 75mph instead of 70? The answer is obvious. We wont obey any posted limit. We will always go beyond it. So post it at 70 and you keep them from going 80.
God made "the law" knowing we could not keep it. So what did he do? He sent his son to die for us so we could be saved from the breaking of the law. The laws are right. They are there to keep us safe and to enjoy the greatest blessings of life. Yet, we always break them. We are all sinners. He knew we couldn't keep them and the only way we could live the greatest life was to come to his son, Jesus. Praise God he has given us a way to handle our sins and to be forgiven for break his law. Thank you Jesus for coming to my rescue on the cross.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)
I get to hang out with some pretty great teenagers. I see so many great things they do. They are fun, caring, smart, and driven to learn. They love to compare themselves to others. They compare themselves to great athletes, beautiful models, top scholars, and students with all the wealth. It drives me crazy. Their standards are so skewed by our Pop culture. Some ways I think our education system promotes that. Instead of measuring students on their own growth, we constantly measure them against others. We give awards based on those comparisons and it promotes more comparisons and much less work on improving each individual student. It's. OT always healthy to compare yourself to others. It may create an impossible goal, or more than likely it holds you back from being everything you can be.
It doesn't change that much when they become adults. We all use others for comparison. If we choose correctly we can make ourselves look better than we are. Our standards are also skewed. Our only real measure is Jesus Christ. I fail miserably when I compare myself to the perfection of Christ. We are unclean. Our sins prevent us from being compared closely with Christ, pure goodness. I need to remember this, often. I am not as good as I think I am. If my standards are just other people I meet, those standards are way too low. My goals and dreams need to be set with Christ in mind.
I know I fall short, but I am also confident in my future because Christ died for my sins and shortcomings. He has made me pure, up to his standards, by the cross. Praise God for sending his son for me!
Friday, December 20, 2013
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10 NIV)
What does Honor mean? We use this term so loosely and many just don't understand it. Our military, police officers, and firemen know the definition of honor. They live it. This verse gives a great insight to what a honor means.
Our society is about ME! This time of year is a great training ground for MEism Our younger children learn early to make lists for themselves. Television stations run commercials continuously about what YOU NEED! The entire Christmas season is tainted with selfishness and materialism. Every once in a while we run across someone who really knows the definition of honor because they give of themselves and don't care about GETTING as much as GIVING! This year I know someone, personally, who gave up her Christmas for someone in need.
My granddaughter, Lauren Klaehn, is a selfless, honorable young lady. She really stepped out this Christmas to honor someone else above herself. When most sophomore girls are anticipating great quantities of clothing and trinkets for Christmas. My wonderful granddaughter is giving all her Christmas to a homeless woman. She selflessly is taking over two hundred dollars that would have been her Christmas presents and giving it to a homelessness woman. She found out what this woman needed, shopped for it, and is giving it out of pure love. Her parents didn't prompt it. She brought it up on her own. She has jdeveloped an beautiful attitude of honor and dedication to others above herself.
I can't begin to express the pride I have in this wonderful caring young lady. Frankly, I'm embarrassed that she understands what it means to be a Christian better than her 53 year old grandfather. If you want to know the true meaning of honor and sacrifice, ask Lauren. She is starting to understand those honorable military personnel who sacrifice their lives for our freedom, or the firemen and policemen who puts his life on the line to protect us. She is living the definition of HONOR!
Merry Christmas Lauren! May God bless you in special ways now and throughout your life!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. (John 13:13 NIV)
I am a teacher. Jesus was a teacher. I am so proud of the fact I am in the most honorable profession. Training our youth for the world of tomorrow is so very rewarding. The students are wonderful. The group of teachers I work with are exceptional. The heart and soul of teaching is caring about your students, building relationships, and helping prepare students for their future. It is not always easy and I can't say I don't have moments of frustration. I think even Jesus had moments of frustration. I know God has been frustrated with his "students". He still loves us and I feel the same about my students.
God wants us to grow in our knowledge of him. He wants us to learn the proper ways to live. He wants us to study his textbook, open ourselves to his teaching and guiding, and learn from our mistakes. I want the same things for my students. I don't just want them to know about Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, I want them to learn how to live. I want them to open themselves to new ideas and learn from their mistakes. I want them to be prepared to lead our world in a way that blesses God. That's why I feel this profession is the most honorable.
I pray for my students and colleagues every day and I thank The Lord he has blessed me with such a wonderful life as a teacher!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, (Ephesians 6:19 NIV)
It seems selfish to ask someone to pray for me. Everyone has need for prayer and I am no different. This verse is what I would ask you to pray on my behalf. As a matter of fact, this is the prayer I say for myself several times a day.
I know so many people. How do I pray for all of them? I have to admit I spend most of my morning and evening prayer time praying for my family or myself. I'm not ashamed, but I should pray for more people. Just like me, we all need prayer. So many people have no one to pray for them. I have, on occasion prayed for coworkers and I am on the prayer chain at church. I get requests and faithfully pray for those people. I need to do more.
I am pledging to pray for more people. I will pray for people I encounter each day, the students, the parents, the coworkers, the strangers that I meet. I will pray the prayer that each of these people grow closer to God, come to know the saving grace of Jesus and be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit. We can change our communities by spending more time praying for people in that community.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (Proverbs 31:28 NIV)
I have great daughters. I have great grandkids. I wish I could take credit! Truth is, my wife is the real reason for my wonderful Christian family. Her heart for our family is pure and the love she shares is amazing. The character of a business "starts at the top" , the character of a family begins and ends with MOM. This is even more true for the Christian Family. As we were raising our family she made sure our kids had clothes and all the necessary things to grow up at her own sacrifice. She was the taxi driver, cook, maid, nurse, teacher, laundry service, counselor, disciplinarian, and Christian example. She never complains and would do anything for her family, even at the cost of her own health.
My wife is the epitome of a great family leader. She has an undying love for her daughters and an equal or greater love for her grandchildren. She has always given selflessly and with no limits. It's Christmas and we focus on Jesus, as we should. But I often think of Mary and her great sacrifices. My lovely wife follows her great example. Mary was blessed to be the mother of our savior, but she had to sacrifice all from Jesus birth to his horrific death on the cross. She was a true example of the typical Christian mother.
I thank The Lord for being blessed with such a wonderful, loving wife. She has passed that love and family dedication to our daughters. She is the greatest blessing of my life.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Romans 11:33-36 MSG)
I feel sorry for people who don't know God. They miss out on life. There is nothing like his extravagant generosity. He uniquely loves us, those created in his own image. It makes for a life filled with peace and adventure at the same time. I have really studied God over the past 15 years. I know people, like my grandfather, who studied him for an entire lifetime. Yet, they and I am no closer to being able to explain him. I am no closer to knowing him. He is so wise, loving, and amazing. I don't really expect to get to know him like I know my wife or my family. I still have a long way to go with them. My study of God is not so much to know him as to be with him. To hear his voice, to feel his presence, to feel his love, is my greatest hope. Everything about my life is in him, through him, and for him. May I share the love he has granted me every day of my life.
What I do know? He loves me! He shows me everyday by the blessings I receive, by the protection he provides, and by his direction of my path. But, most importantly he showed me that love by sending his son to live with us and die on the cross for us! Merry Christmas. Celebrate Jesus this holiday season. He is the reason for the season!
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NIV)
I'm getting so I hate politics. Most people are way ahead of me on this. I have always admired politicians and there dedication. Just like most modern day heroes, the image they portray is not always perfect. Politicians, actors, actresses, athletes, and business men are not perfect. They are just as sinful as we are. They succumb to temptation and the lures of fame and fortune add extra pressure. Most can't handle it. I have always looked on them with pride, not anymore. Republicans and Democrats alike are, more often than not, self-centered, egotistical, leaders.
The political leaders of our nation seem to be more corrupted by power. Money has become more of an influence than people in our democracy. The price is the failure in our economy and more importantly the character of our nation. We are not a nation for the majority. We are a nation of the minority and special interest groups. We have removed God and faith from all our institutions. We have made it wrong to profess our faith. I'm dissappointed we can not overcome this.
The good news? The nations of our planet, the kingdoms, will fail. They are going to be turned over to my savior. He will eventually rule all nations and kingdoms. I can't wait and dream of that day. Praise God protects his people even now, during all the times of turmoil, through all the evil and immoral leadership. Thank you Lord for your love and grace!
Friday, December 13, 2013
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35 NIV)
I love words. I'm a Math teacher, but the way people communicate can be quite fascinating. Lately, through school, I have been helping grade writing assignments. It has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. I have always loved books and have read continuously throughout my life. No book compares to the Bible. No words compare to those words inspired by the creator of the universe, written through his spirit in man.
The Bible is such an awesome book in my life. The word of God, on paper, for me. It is a guide, a resource, a direction for me to follow. It has endured the tests of time and the scrutiny of millions. It is unfallible, perfect, and sacred. I love studying it and serving through its message. I am always awestruck by its relevance right now. It's not a pie-in-the-sky feeling, it's real! The critiques have tried for thousands of years to tear down its value. Faith and experience have demonstrated to me PERSONALLY their folly.
Thank you Lord for your love. Thank you for your word and it's life giving guidance. Please Lord keep my eyes and my heart open to my daily Bible Study. Reveal to me how to make those words a part of my life not just print on a page. Praise God for the truths you have written in this wonderful book.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NIV)
Free -- to be unrestrained or unobstructed
We have so many barriers in our lives. Do you remember the Berlin Wall? What about the color barrier and civil rights? The barrier for women's rights? The Sound Barrier? Man has come up against and destroyed many barriers through our history. The ability to break down those walls can be directly attributed to Jesus Christ. Many of the barriers I face on a daily basis are self imposed. Others are placed there by Satan. He just loves to see us separated from God. The barriers I see on a daily basis are not as Grand as those we have faced as a nation or a planet. Yet, they keep me from being the best person I can be. I struggle with barriers that keep me doing the best I can in the classroom. If aight battles trying to be the best servant for Christ. The only way I overcome those barriers is to count on Jesus to knock them down. None of those walls stand a chance against my savior. Once we accept the power of Jesus nothing stands in our way. We are free!
I pray Jesus continues to fight for our rights. I pray he gives us the wisdom and power to overcome obstacles placed to keep us from serving and helping others. I pray that I am not a barrier to others coming to know Jesus. Praise God he loves me and watches over me every minute of my life. Thank you Lord!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3 NIV)
God is God. Why do we try to make gods of everything? We worship money, things, jobs, athletes, performers, and many other things in place of God. Everyone will figure this out............ eventually. We can do it on our own or forced by God himself.
If we can't say we "Know that The Lord is God" We need to open our hearts and mind to finding out. I understand doubt, but in my 53 years of life I have opened up to the possibility and God has shown me. There is no question that God is God. The God of Isaac and Jacob, the God of Matthew and Luke is God. There is only one, my God is God. He created us and he knows our hearts. He loves us. He wants us to know him. Can you say it with your mouth? Do you know it in your mind? Can you feel it in your heart? If not, ask God to reveal himself to you. Be open to the possibilities. You will see and then know God is God!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! (Jude 1:20, 21 MSG)
I am waiting on the day Christ comes for me. Until that time, I will spend my time praying and staying in the center of Gods Love. That is living the real life. What does it mean to be in the center of Gods Love? If I'm in the center I am deeply immersed in his love. As far as I can go Gods love is present. The world is outside and I'm protected from its reach. I pray we can reach the center of his love.
Where I'm at is my own choice.God provides a place for me to be safe and secure from harm. I get there by being in his love, praying continuously, and serving others. If I'm not in the center of his love, I am exposed to the world. The world can be an ugly place. I have found that I move in and out of his love as I walk through my day, week,and year. He wants me to be there always but my weakness and selfish desires keep me from being there. When I focus on myself and not my family, or serving others, I fall out of his love. When I get too busy to pray or build my faith through his word, I fall out of the center of his love. It's not that he doesn't love me, it's that I reject that love. That's not too smart!
Dear Lord, please help me stay in the center of your love. Be patient with me when I fall away and grant mercy when I return. I love you and want to be with you every moment of my day. Amen!
Monday, December 9, 2013
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (Ephesians 2:13, 14 NIV)
Before every assembly at GHS for at least the past 5 years, the principal raises his pointer finger high in the air, he say, "We are...." And we all respond.. "Garrett!" It is used to bring us together as a school. The former Principal started the tradition by saying We are One! Unity is so critical in a school, a family, a business, or any organization. You can not survive with a house divided. You can not be effective with barriers and walls of hostility.
The best way to bring a group together is through Jesus Christ. Our world is so divided. Our communities, our government, our families all follow the same pattern. Jesus is the answer. The more we draw near to him, the more we have true peace. Pray for unity. Pray for oneness in your lives. Pray that your enemies or adversaries will draw near to Christ. As we all draw closer to him our lives will be filled with love and peace.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 53:1 NIV)
Who is they? We are the "they" of this verse. As a Christian with the confidence where I'm going, it would be easy to be pompous. I could always refer to "they" as those sinners who have not committed to Jesus. But, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not as great as I think I am. I am a part of THEY. Today brought that to my attention.
I was called on to visit a family whose mother is near death in a Fort Wayne Hospital. They asked me to pray for the mother like I was someone special. I'm not. I felt so inadequate. Yet, I do know someone who has the complete power to heal . They were so gracious and worried about there mother. We prayed for a miracle. We prayed for healing and I know the power of my savior. I know if it is in his will, he will heal this woman. Yet, I also know his will is perfect and he does not always choose to heal here on Earth. I just don't understand,but I love him and I know he is in charge. His ways are beyond me and I'm more than okay with that. In my narrow vision, I would love to see a complete healing that will bring a Glory to God and this family to its knees. It's ideal, I know. But God says to bring it all to him, so I did and do again tonight.
I also have one of my early spiritual mentors fighting a brain tumor. This man has brought so many to know Jesus. He counseled my wife and I as we were teenagers planning to marry. He and his lovely wife brought me through my teen years and were key in the development of my relationship with God. This wonderful, God filled man was also instrumental in the early faith of my own children. I feel so powerless in calling on Jesus for him.
Dear Lord, please hear my prayer. I ask for healing for this woman and Ted for your Glory, for your purposes and for your kingdom. I pray your love will be revealed through this entire situation that these family members would draw nearer to you. I pray for the doctors, surgeons, nurses and hospital staff that you will guide the treatment and miracle healing. I praise you God for your power, mercy and love. I love you and trust you. Thank you Jesus for loving this terribly inadequate person and making something out of nothing in my life. Amen!
Saturday, December 7, 2013
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (Psalm 8:3 NIV)
I'm not really sure "ginormous" is a word. But, Words can not describe the enormity of God. The psalmist tries. To consider God's fingers creating the heavens and placing all the billions of stars is incomprehensible. On a clear moonlit night its like we can touch the moon or reach the stars. God has done both. Then take it a step further, he has done these great things and yet he loves US! He desires US! He has created all these things for US! Dwell on it! The cells of our body, the atom, it's nucleus, its energy, the vastness of space, are all mysteries. But, the greatest of all mysteries, why he loves us? Why he longs for us?
Praise God for the work of his hands, the delicate but powerful fingers that have the skill to create all things. I love you Lord and worship you! You are amazing and wonderful beyond all words!
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)
One of the worlds favorite Christmas songs has to be Silent Night. There is nothing more peaceful than ending a Christmas Eve service with this wonderful song. That time is a great moment in our lives where we quietly contemplate Jesus. I know I should do that more often. My morning and evening devotions are peaceful times for me. I can ignore the world and worship God. I need to do that more throughout the day.
Peace begins with Jesus. Our rushed lives, push out time with our savior. Our minds are weak and when we are busy doing our day, we aren't disciplined enough to include Jesus in all our activities. We need to train ourselves to be steadfast in relying on Jesus. We need to do this every waking moment. We need a lifetime of prayer. I'm not talking about being a monk. I'm saying waking, eyes wide open, prayer throughout every moment of our day. He wants more from me than just a brief time on Sunday, prayer at meals, before bed, or when we rise.
If we want the real peace, deeper than "Silent Night" , we need to spend more time with the one who can provide that life of peace.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
I know people who would love to see me fail! Whenever we start something new in education, there are many people who would love to see it fail. In all fairness, we have had a bunch of a FADS over the years. It's hard to shift. One of our newest program is using a standards based grading philosophy. Students keep working at understanding a standard until they master it. They get to "Fail" until they complete the standard successfully. The detractors say this is not helpful and students will not try and not learn if they just get to redo things. I see students putting out so much more effort and genuinely caring about their education.
I am so glad God doesn't grade like we do in most schools. Our lives are filled with failures. Satan loves to see them. Yet, our God is patient enough to let us try over and over until we finally get it. We can and will sin. God forgives us. God give us 70 times 7 times to forgive. He gives us instruction along the way and re teaches us daily. God would make a great educator. He's not looking to see us fail. He takes no joy in our failures and wants to see us succeed. So much is his desire that he gave his son so we might overcome our sinful failures and spend eternity with him. I love his grading scale!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12 NIV)
I want to serve with a willing spirit in everything I do. I heard a colleague lament the fact they were arriving at school for the start of the week. I just don't understand why people work jobs they hate. To wake up everyday and dread going to teach is beyond me. If you don't like what you're doing, do something else. Don't you think students can tell if a teacher loves their job? I know they can also tell if you loath what you're doing. The attitude we take in completing our job is directly related to our success. Jesus is the center of our life and the joy we have with life.
The joy of our initial salvation can only wane if we do not constantly build our relationship with the savior. We need a spirit willing to be used by him and listen to his calling. If our attitude is not good we will lose our joy. Call on God to renew your spirit, to restore the joy that brought you to Jesus. You have to love what you do in life and the center of that love needs to be Jesus. Being satisfied, happy with your job, your family, your circumstances in life is tied to your love of Jesus.
It's easy to forget where I'm going. The path that God has set before me gets overgrown with weeds of sin and I lose my way. I'm normal. My constant prayer is to restore the joy of my salvation. In other words, please Lord, clear the path for me. Then give me the willing heart to walk down that path with you and the joy of my salvation.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5 NIV)
These verses were written 2000 years ago and we are still living in "the present evil age" and a God is still rescuing us.
I am always amazed by people who don't think the bible applies to their lives today. This amazing book written by God through his servants is just as real today as ever. If you really take the time to read and let the words sink into your heart and mind, you will be transformed. It's is the KEY to living life today, right now, wherever you are.
Our times are evil. Governments are corrupt, churches and followers of Christ are being persecuted. Our own country continues to tear down the family, our faith, and disregards human life. For 2000 years nothing has changed. Praise God he overcame the world 2000 years ago and he overcomes the world today. He gave his son so we might live! How can you not give God the glory.
Monday, December 2, 2013
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8 NIV)
I learned something tonight. I have read the Bible since I could read. I have read the story of Noah and the olive branch returned by the dove. I know of the mount of olives and I have eaten olives. Yet, I really have known very little of the olive tree, until now. This little tree is a key part of life in the Middle East. In Israel, this tree was used for food, shade, building, healing, and cooking oil. The tree itself is said to be indestructible. It can live through, heat, cold, drought, wet, fire, and many other extremes. Some trees have root systems that survive over 2000 years. It is truly an important symbol of God.
When I rely on God, live by his will, I am just as indestructible as an Olive tree. I can not thrive on my own. Olive trees need the same hand of a God to thrive as I do. When I flourish it is always in the house of God. His presence and strength are transferred to my life like that of the Olive tree. Praise God for his love, mercy, grace, and strength.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. (Psalm 19:1-3 NIV)
It's December 2nd and winter is drawing near. The temperatures are falling, the leaves are gone. Christmas lights are up and the house is nearly decorated to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's all beautifully choreographed year after year. I love the seasons and the change. This might be strange coming from a biker who longs for the open road. But, I learn to appreciate the warmth of a summer ride because of the dark, cold winter. I also love the beauty of snow falling and the fury of a blizzard. It makes the freshness of that first Spring day even sweeter. The tests and challenges of winter speak to my heart. Winter reveals much. It reveals it without words but it speaks clear.
God speaks to us with the relentless changing of the seasons. My life is his and he leads me through the same changes that mark the seasons. My seasons are not ushered in by the changing weather, they come from the march of time. While I was laboring yesterday putting up Christmas lights, fighting the ladder, and my patience, I came to realize I'm not going to be able to do this forever. After my 15th trip to the attic, I realized my body can't handle these events as it once did. Like winter, the seasons of my own life are changing. I tire more easily, my fatigue after 5days of Thanksgiving travel was nearly more than I could bear. Yet, as I end this long extended weekend, I appreciate even more the joy of this holiday season. I don't anticipate this being my last, but I have seen more than I have ahead of me. I appreciate and Praise God for the joy of this season. I praise him for my glorious life and the many blessings I have been given.
It is with great joy and satisfaction that I anticipate the changing of the seasons in my life. I expect to have many more years of life on this planet, but the seasons of my life ARE changing, I feel it in my heart as well as my bones! I do not fear the changes ahead of me. I don't look at them with sadness. I look to them with the same excitement and anticipation I have for the onslaught of winter or the freshness of spring. Praise God for the certainty of time and the changes in our lives!
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15, 16 NIV)
Tonight in my Billy Graham devotional I read this story:
"Some time ago a lady wrote and said, “I am 65 years old. My children are all married, my husband is dead, and I am one of the loneliest people in all the world.” It was suggested to her that she find a way of sharing her religious faith and her material goods with those around her. She wrote a few weeks later and said, “I am the happiest woman in town. I have found a new joy and happiness in sharing with others.” That’s exactly what Jesus promised!"
Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. The joy of Christmas is missed by so many people because they are lonely. Do you know someone who is lonely? I know quite a few elderly men and women who have lost their spouse? Many of these people spent a lifetime with their wives/husbands. They had grown together to be one. They had known trial and triumph. They promised to live together until the separation of death, then it happened. With that loss of a loved one, they lost a part of themselves. Now, they need the friendship of God more than ever. They lean on the strength of the almighty. In order for joy to re-enter their lives, God must fill the void. The loneliness can not be filled by people, it needs to be filled with love. Sure, lonely people can find love from other people, but they need the perfect love of Jesus. Nothing can replace it. The lonely need to find or maybe RE-find Jesus. Yes, even those who have known Jesus for years will need to rediscover his love through the Bible, Prayer, worship, and meditation. It is through that reconnecting, they will find new joy and purpose.
Loneliness doesn't just come from the loss of a spouse. Many people have never experienced the love of companionship. For them, this season is also quite difficult. They too need the love of Christ FIRST! It is not from experience that I share, it is from my heart. God does not mean us to mourn forever. He does not mean for us to be lonely. He does not intend for us to focus on what no longer is or what never has been. He wants us to center our lives on him. We are comforted by openly professing his name, doing good, serving others, and sharing our faith. Their is no time to waste, Praise God for the life he has planned for us.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19 NIV)
Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the magic of my faith. I'm not talking about "pull the rabbit out of a hat" magic. I'm talking about the core of my faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. The fact this happened over 2000 years ago and we still follow Christ is amazing.
The world doesn't understand. I need to help them understand. Because Jesus lives in my life, right now, November 30th, 2013, my life is blessed. I am living because of Jesus. I see so many people that breathe, they walk the earth, but they are not alive to life. They don't appreciate their daily life, they don't appreciate their families, coworkers, friends, and love. They don't appreciate the magic of a sunset or sunrise. They don't experience the REAL joy of Christmas or Thanksgiving. They live in a life without hope and promise. They don't know amazing grace except through song. The magic of my life is that Christ lives.
I am alive because Christ lives in me. His presence is magic and I praise him for loving me, even though I am a sinner. I praise him for his promise of life eternal. The great mysteries of life are solved through Christ. It's magic!
Friday, November 29, 2013
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
I love my family and that's why I love Thanksgiving. We love each other no matter what. It's not because we have to, many families really don't love show much love for each other. I have seen so many dysfunctional families. Parents who disown children. Children that disown parents. I've seen abandon children and parents who cared only for themselves. Not my family. We enjoy being around each other. We have fun! We love each other, even though we live different lives.
It's not coincidental the Bible puts us in the middle of Gods Family. Family is meant to be just as God designed, FOREVER! We should love each other like Christ loved us. His own love is this, that while we were still sinners, he died for us. That same love should be a part of our everyday lives. We should love our families, like God loves.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
The holidays are anxious times for many people, not me. Our church is starting a new sermon series about family conflict. I have seen family conflict through my students, family, and friends. I know some family holidays look more like "Family Feud" than "Leave it it Beaver". I am so blessed to have a great family and I can not wait to get to spend time with them on Thanksgiving and every other day of the year. In fact, I long for retirement, not because I hate what I'm doing, but because I would love to spend more time with my family. I know some people who can't stand to be with their families and this time of year just brings strife.
I have a small message to those people who don't have the families they would hope for. Pray. My most consistent prayers are for my family. I don't pray they will change, or that they will get along. I don't pray about specific strife issues. I pray they will grow closer to Jesus. I pray that people will come into their lives to build their faith in Jesus. I pray they will be protected from evil and they will flee from it. I pray their hearts will be touched by the Holy Spirit and led in his direction, not their own. I pray they will love each other and serve each other out of that love.
Pray for your family. You will be amazed what God will do with those prayers. If you don't feel you have the relationship with God that you can ask him those things, you need to change that relationship right now. Your Father in Heaven wants you to be close to him, to love him and he longs to share in your life.
Praise God he has provided me with a family who loves him and loves each other!
Monday, November 25, 2013
and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
I am not a perfume guy. I know some women who just love their perfume. They put a lot of money into smelling right. The most expensive perfume is listed below
1. Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty Perfume – $12,721.89 per ounce
Sunday, November 24, 2013
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NIV)
We are 4 days away from Thanksgiving. Many people can only think about Black Friday and Christmas. Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus is a wonderul holiday. Christmas as a gift giving, shopping frenzy is depressing. The shopping days from Thanksgiving and Christmas are filled with "desires of the flesh". It is a strong statement about where we're at as a society. It's a problem that is much deeper than just shopping and over indulging. The solution to the problem is right before your eyes.
Walk by the Spirit!
We are traveling through life. We are walking and we could use a companion to make sure we travel the right direction and avoid the hazards of life. The Holy Spirit can keep us from concentrating on ourselves. We must connect with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I need to connect continuously. I can't just do it on Sundays, just in my daily devotions, or just when I rise and when I sleep. I need to do it 24 hours a day. I fall far short of this and need to work at not ignoring the Spirit throughout my day. If I truly want to celebrate this holiday season 2013, I will work on my walk with the Spirit and ignore th desires to gratify myself!
Friday, November 22, 2013
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13 NIV)
My family knows my favorite holiday of the year is THANKSGIVING . This year I am ticked! More and more stores are extending "Black Friday" to Thanksgiving Day. I think of Thanksgiving as a holiday with pure motives. The holiday is designed for family. It is designed for a family looking back on the past year and giving thanks. It's not about giving gifts, or getting stuff. It's not about shopping, sales, or bargains. Now that seems to be changing and it's sad. I don't want Thanksgiving to be known as the kick off for shopping craziness. The motive for the change is pure greed! Companies trying to profit and not caring about family.
We are a blessed nation. Is it too much to ask that we take one day each year to reflect on those blessings? Is it too much to ask we set aside 24 hours devoted to fellowship with our loved ones? Will there be more money to spend by adding another 12 hours to the mall hours? I can't believe people are so heartless they need to ignore this sacred time. We really need to get our priorities straight. Be thankful for our lives. Be thankful for our families. Be thankful for the love of the creator of the universe. Be thankful for the cross where Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. Praise God for Thanksgiving Day!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NIV)
What does it mean to believe the story of Jesus? The dictionary says believe means to have a firm faith that something is true. Our belief in Jesus is not based merely on physical evidence or fact. God could have left an obvious trail to Jesus. The life of Jesus could have been covered in every culture, society, country or town. The life of Jesus could be indisputable with the right evidence. It's not. I think this is all part of the plan. God wants us to have firm faith when life is not easy. He wants us to trust him when society sees no proof he ever existed. So, our belief is firm faith.
I have a firm faith. I have seen personal evidence on a daily basis of the existence of God. My prayer life, my bible study, my worship, all add to the evidence. I don't have a photograph of Jesus in my wallet. I don't have a copy of a book he personally wrote. I haven't seen him, and I don't know anyone who has seen him. Yet, my faith is stronger today than any other day of my life.
It just takes an initial "Mustard Seed" of faith and see where it will go. You don't need to start with a form faith. When you do take that first step, you will soon develop that firm faith and realize you have all the proof you need to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15 NIV)
There is so much comfort in knowing my God will never leave my side. I know that he is not going anywhere until he has brought me home. He has promised to prepare a place for me. He guarantees it. I have nothing to fear and can enjoy life because of his promises. My heart is where it needs to be. That doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. It doesn't mean I can do whatever I want. It does mean I will overcome my mistakes and will learn from them. I will survive the evil and sin of this world, including my own. I feel his presence in my life, he makes sure of that. Praise God that he cares for me, watches over me, and walks with me every day.
I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:18 NIV)
I have lost many sets of keys in my life. I remember one time when my daughters were very young, I lost my keys around Halloween. We looked everywhere. I had to get new keys for work, my vehicles, and for home. Around Thanksgiving we were cleaning. I was getting ready to throw out the remaining Halloween candy and guess what I found in the bag of Candy? Yep, I found my keys inside the bag of un-eaten Halloween candy. Nobody had any idea how they got there.
I'm pretty confident God would never let me hold the keys to Hades. But, I'm glad he has them. My loving and powerful God is in charge of Eternity. He has overcome death, and wants all of us to join him in Heaven. He grudgingly opens the locked gates of hell. I am so thankful that he has promised me a home with him and that he has prepared a joyous place to live forever. While I'm here on this earth, I will work to bring others with me. I will do all I can to live a life that sets an example for others. I want to lead them to the cross and the sacrifice that Christ made. I pledge to help keep the gates of Hades closed, never to open for the ones I meet!
Monday, November 18, 2013
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20 NIV)
Today was a crazy day. We started off our day with great worship at County Line. The sermon was good, even if a little unorthodox. The message was on Gun Control. We left church and went to our oldest daughter's for Thanksgiving. They are going to Florida over Thanksgiving break. Then we came home to April like storms in the middle of November. There were tornadoes, hail, heavy rain, wind, and lots of thunder and lightning. This is typical, unpredictable, Indiana weather! It sure makes life exciting.
Life is full of unpredictable events, some good, and some bad. I like the variety, most of the time. Other times, I am looking for a boring, predictable existence. The most anticipated event of my life is my final trip to Heaven and meeting Jesus face-to-face. If I want to have stability, and predictability in my life I only have to look to God. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. I eagerly await the time when my only priority is sitting at the feet of Jesus and worshipping him.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)
In my life, what sacrifices have I made for others? I have to admit I've been more about myself than others. Probably the biggest sacrifice I ever made was giving up my job as Athletic Director to go back in the classroom. I did it so I could spend more time with my family and in ministry with CMA. It took 53 years for me to finally see I had my priorities wrong. I wonder how many blessings I missed because of my selfishness. Since I made my "Sacrifice" I have been blessed abundantly. I need to think more in terms of sacrifice. What do I have to give up that's getting in the way of me serving God? What can I do in my life to set my priorities straight?
It's hard to make changes on our own. Many times we need God's direct intervention. I have been preaching for God to help me change. I want to be more compassionate, more of a servant, and more of a minister for Christ. I did this through some struggles a few years ago and God sent me back to the classroom. Those prayers and the guiding of the Holy Spirit have changed me in a great way. As we offer ourselves to God and his plan, we worship God more than when we do in anytime of our life. Pray for God to change you. Look at your weaknesses and ask God to help you overcome them. Be ready for changes. God will hear you!
Friday, November 15, 2013
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)
This is such a tricky concept. If you read it wrong it sounds like you are supposed to brag about your good deeds in front of others. You might also read it to say make sure you do your good deeds so others will see them. I don't see either of these interpretations as being accurate.
When I walk into a dark room I turn on the light to see. Why?
I don't turn the light on so I can see the light bulb, I turn it on so I can see the room.
A lightbulb's purpose is not to bring glory to itself. It's purpose is to shine on the glory of the room. In the same way I am not letting my own light shine to give glory to myself, but give Glory to the Father. I do not do the good deeds, serve others, or worship to put the spotlight to my own selfish pride. I do those things out of a desire to bring Glory to God. My motives have to be pure and clear.
Doing good deeds and glorifying God have to go together. I need to make sure I check my motives on a regular basis. Am I a member of CMA for my own glory or Gods. Do I teach for my own purposes or for Gods? It is so easy to fall in to the trap of selfishness.
How do I keep from focusing on me? First, you need to stay in contact with God. Just one day a week isn't going to do it. Regular devotions when you rise and when you go to bed is a minimum. Prayer constantly, am/pm and many times in between are a must. Worship and fellowship with people who share your passion for God. All of these things together will help us focus our light on others, not focusing others on us. Praise God his power, grace, and mercy are given to me to help me serve in his way!
Thursday, November 14, 2013
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)
Do you remember the Army AD campaign to "be all that you can be"? The whole idea is that you can't reach your potential unless you join the army. Even though it was a little presumptuous, it was a great campaign slogan.
God could have used the same slogan, but it would be true. You really can't reach your true potential with out Christ. I know some great people who are not Christians. They exhibit great skill at their jobs, or in other areas of their lives. Yet, they still haven't reached where they could.
All of us could make improvements in our lives. The greatest improvements occur when you accept Christ as your savior. Your life changes to focus on others. Your life is less about what you can get versus what you give. It's ok that you will never reach perfection. We all need to direct our lives to get better. If you don't accept Christ you are missing out on a better life, a life filled with blessings that make life amazing.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14 NIV)
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV)
One event is critical above all others as central to our faith......THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST! You can't have faith without the resurrection. Death is a fact of life. The power of our creator and the love he has for us is non-existent without the death and resurrection of Christ.
This FACT is so amazing that once you accept it, you will be changed forever. It's not just for Easter, it's for every day we walk this planet. This wonderful event is not just reserved for the Son of the High God, he shares it with us. We believers will accept this great gift once we die on this earth. We will rise to be with Christ. Why would you not want that? If you are unsure about the truth of the resurrection, you better relook at your faith. You can't believe in Jesus with out trusting the truth of the empty tomb. There is plenty of documentation. It is a FACT! But, eventually it boils down to the question if you believe. I choose to believe and it has changed my life from lost to found! Praise God for the resurrection of our savior!
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. (Luke 23:33 NIV)
How could we have gotten it so wrong? We crucified Jesus, for what? I wasn't there, but it feels like I was. Would I have made a different decision than those that drove the nails? We treated him like a criminal, why? He did nothing wrong except proclaim love. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and loved the forgotten. It doesn't sound too much like a criminal to me. He went against society to proclaim the truth.
Do I act like Jesus? It is not popular in today's society to love Jesus. Our country is getting more anti-Christian all the time. The rights of the minority overshadow my rights to worship and to try to convince others to know Jesus. Churches are being attacked, businesses like Chik Fil a and Hobby Lobby are being attacked because of their beliefs. We are being treated like criminals. Does it sound familiar? The only thing Christians are guilty of is loving and caring for people. Just because we don't embrace or in any way endorse gay lifestyle, doesn't mean we hate gays. Just because we fight for the life of the unborn, doesn't mean we hate those who have made that decision. Some of our Christian family cross the line in their fight for the unborn. Some take the fight for marriage to the extreme. They make us look like criminais. We are not criminals.
Christians need to continue to love people and teach the truth. We can not let the truths we believe in keep us forming living unconditionally. If we are criminalized like Jesus, we need to stay the course even unto the cross! Love first and fight for truth with that same love.
Monday, November 11, 2013
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NIV)
You're walking down the street. A man walks toward you. The man is Jesus. Would you recognize him? You would never walk down the street and pass a friend without recognizing them. You would probably even know them from a great distance.
You say, "How could I recognize someone I've never seen?" John knew Jesus because of God. John's relationship with God is so strong he knew Jesus like he had been with him his entire life. How well do you know Jesus? Do you speak with him every day? Do you study his life?
I act like the people I hang out with and they act like me. This phenomenon occurs in all relationships. The longer I'm married the closer my wife and I think alike. The friends I spend time with influence my thinking, my speaking, and my actions. It seems to make sense to spend time with Jesus and his Father so that I can act the way they do. Building a relationship with Jesus is critical to your life here on this planet and your future in eternity. You need to get to know Jesus as you would your best friend. You need to know him so well, you would recognize him anywhere and anytime. You will change by getting closer to him.
If you really want to change your life, make it better, get closer to Jesus!
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: (Luke 24:6 NIV)
It is said that Christianity is unique. We are the only religion where our leader died and rose again to live with us. Indeed, the resurrection is the key to our faith. I am also promised a new life. I have received new life here on Earth. I am a different person as a follower of Christ. I will also receive a new life upon leaving this earth. I can't wait to get there. My life is wonderful here, but I can't even imagine how great my life will be in eternity.
It is great to be reminded of Christ sacrifice for us and his defeat of death. Often, I need to be reminded because the life I lead gets me so tangled up in the problems of this world. Christ rising and overcoming death gives hope and promise that we too can overcome. I need that on a daily basis.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Get and read God ’s book: None of this is going away, this breeding, brooding evil. God has personally commanded it all. His Spirit set it in motion. God has assigned them their place, decreed their fate in detail. This is permanent— generation after generation, the same old thing. (Isaiah 34:16, 17 MSG)
I have REALLY been reading and studying the Bible for the last 13 years of my life. Even before that, all the way back to my childhood, I have been taught it's content. There is nothing like this book. If you want to know God, know his plan, know yourself, and learn about life, read the Bible. The philosophers of our time want answers to life's deepest questions. They need to look no further than the Bible.
Every day I learn something more during my study time. The word of God is a tool for life. It is to be deeply imbedded in our daily life. The Holy Spirit speaks through every chapter and verse. I thank you Lord for providing me with such a wonderful guide to having a blessed life.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, (Luke 24:46 NIV)
I have a great life. If I really look closely at my 53 years, I have not suffered at all. Most of my struggles have been minuscule compared to the suffering Christ endured.
I committed my life to Christ as an early teen. Since that time, I have experienced a life filled with blessings and my micro-struggles were usually self inflicted. Even these have been minor. I praise God for the life he has given me. He has blessed me with a loving, Christ-centered wife, a family that loves The Lord, a job and coworkers who have passion for kids, great friends, financial security, and a life filled with adventure.
I am so thankful for the blessings of The Lord. I don't have a lot of experience with suffering. I know that some people do have a life filled with suffering and pain. I just can't relate. I am amazed he loves me with wonderul grace and passion. I am thankful for the suffering he did so I would not have to. Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but there is never a bad time to praise God and thank him for our wonderful lives. If your life is less than wonderful, what can you do to turn that around? Talk to The Lord. He will make it clear what needs to happen. It may not be anything YOU are doing. He is here for us. He wants you to call on him and he will be there for you. Your life will change. I have seen it happen so many times.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:29-31 MSG)
Last week I had a student say he had outgrown religion. That is sad. It's like they used to believe in Santa Claus and grew out of it. This faith I have is not like believing in the tooth fairy. I have also heard FAITH is for the weak minded. I guess I'm weak and stupid if society thinks I can't be intelligent and deeply follow Christ. I'm not among the intellectual elite, but I'm above average and every ounce of intelligence in my body is directed toward loving God. God is not a myth. God is real and I love him more than life itself.
This faith that I have is to some made up fantasy. The God of my faith is the creator oft he universe. He made everything and has a great desire to be with his creation. He decided to give us the choice wether we follow him or not. His amazing power is given to us in this choice. Many have rejected him, yet he loves us. He loved us so much that he sent his son to live and die with us. He died so that we might choose to live with him forever. He's real and, frankly, I have deep sorrow for anyone who outright rejects him as fantasy. They are missing out on the true joy of life and a life that extends throughout eternity.
Monday, November 4, 2013
For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate............. (Galatians 6:14-16 MSG)
I'm 53 years old and I don't care!
I remember days gone by when I did everything I could to please my parents. I got older and had a family and I still wanted Mom and Dad to be proud of me. I began my professional work career and did everything to please my bosses and the company I worked for. I got more mature and jumped into education. I did everything I was asked and sacrificed my family time to serve my school. I lived for people and their praise. I lived for the approval of my peers!
Now here I am 53 years old and I don't care. I still work hard, I am constantly looking to do what's best for my family and for the kids I teach. The difference? I've stopped trying to please others and fitting into their mold. I don't care what people think of me. I ONLY care what my Heavenly Father thinks of me. Like the verse says, it's freeing to only have to please Jesus. I live my life for Jesus and his purposes. I teach for his purpose. I minister for him, I serve for him, I play for him, and I ride for him. It is for his glory and not my own. I don't much care if people like me. I don't car if they think I'm doing right, or living the way I should. I have one measure for my life and that is Jesus Christ.
because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. (2 Corinthians 4:14 NIV)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV). So many people know of this verse from the Love Chapter. We always emphasize the Love because it is listed as the greatest. Yet, hope and faith are also critical to the life of a follower of Christ. The three are forever intertwined, so that we can not study one without the other.
Hope - As a child I would use the word hope as a question mark. My hope was a desire that realistically had no chance. "I hope I get a bike for Christmas!", "I hope my team wins." "I hope I do well on a test I didn't study for." Hope is not a question. Hope is a wonderful promise that can't get here quick enough. My hope as a 53 year old follower of Christ rests in the knowledge of his promises. The existence of my hope is an extension of my faith. I have the complete knowledge and faith in my own resurrection and eternal life. My hope is not questioning if it's going to happen, but when. My hope is an anticipation that it could occur at any moment. I look forward to my life beyond this planet. I long to be sheltered in my own room, created exclusively for me by my Heavenly Father. My hope is filled with nothing less than Jesus love and righteousness! Praise God he is Lord of all! He is Holy and has promised to take me with him!
Sunday, November 3, 2013
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10 NIV)
To say that God is amazing is an enormous understatement. I can share 53 years of his "amazingness". The plan to send his son, have him live a human life, suffer the humiliation of crucifixion, rise in three days, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, is truly amazing.
These verses spark more thoughts of amazement. Now that I am a follower of Christ I live with him 24 hours a day, even while I sleep.
Sleeping is so important to our healthy lives. Nearly 1/3 of our lives is spent there. How we live our waking life greatly affects how we sleep. I sleep like a baby. I read my devotions, write the first draft of this blog, pray, and sleep. I'm not anyone special except to say that I'm a child of God. I have restful nights because of my Lord. I have busy days just like everyone else. This weekend has been filled with a Football game, CMA meeting, family, church, and more. I was so tired yesterday. This morning I am rested and ready to go again. I don't stress about the next day, anymore. I don't worry about the sins of my life. I don't stress about schedules, conflicts, deadlines, or other lifetime trials. I rest easy in the arms of a savior that loves me with an infinite grace. I rest easy that my entire family is under the watchful eye and powerful hand of God. I am together with Christ my entire life, even when I am resting from a busy day. Praise God for his 24 hour love!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (Revelation 1:5 NIV)
It's a couple days after Halloween. I saw a lot of fake blood. In our culture, Blood is a symbol of death and pain. So many people can't stand the sight of real blood, some even faint at the slightest amount. I'm ok with small amounts of blood, but not sure how I would react to large quantities.
Blood has a completely different meaning for Christians. God sent his son to be sacrificed for us. He could have just had him die in a simple method. Instead he sacrificed his son by humiliating him, and spilling his blood through torture and nailing to a cross. It would have been a gruesome sight to witness. I'm not sure how I would have reacted.
Since that day, blood has meant love and grace. Jesus gave us our freedom when he bled at the cross. He reconciled our sins, even though he had none. I am so thankful for his love and sacrifice for me. He took that one blood filled moment and overcame it. He rose from the dead and demonstrated the real victory over death and sin.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)
I love watching old westerns. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and other similar shows are just fun! The stagecoach was always a key symbol of the west. The stagecoach always had a strongbox to protect valuables. This portable safe was pretty secure, but it was too mobile. You always had to watch out for thieves that would steal the entire strongbox to get to the goods inside. All they had to do was steal it, take it to a secure area, and work to break it open in private.
The Lord is our stronghold. He's not like the old strongbox. You can count on him. His wisdom, grace, and love have saved us from eternal death. He is our light and once we turn our lives over to him, we have nothing to fear. We have nothing to worry about today, tomorrow, or for eternity. Praise God for his wonderful love.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 NKJV)
It's not about me!
I am in several leadership positions in my life. I'm not trying to brag, it's fact. It could be easy to get a "Big Head".
It's not about me!
I am a leader as a teacher. If I lose sight of the needs and wants of the students, I'm a failure as a teacher. Students shouldn't have to adapt to me and my teaching style, I should have to adapt to them. If a student fails, I have to take responsibility.
It's not about me!
In ministry, like CMA, I'm a leader. It would be easy to think of ourselves as being righteous. We are going out to share Jesus with people who don't know him. We are great, right? The Bible clearly states we're not. We are ALL sinners. None of us are righteous. If we can get to the point where we come to grips with our sin and humble ourselves before The Lord, then we can truly serve others.
It's not about me!
I'm a leader in my family. When it comes to making decisions, I can't do it from selfishness. I need to be a team player with my family. I have to be able to share my thoughts and rally hear the thoughts of others. I need to make sure I help the family and sacrifice, when I need to, for the good of the family.
It's not about me!
I am a selfish person at heart and I need to make sure I keep my own selfishness in check! I am not that great and I have weaknesses I would like to say don't exist. These four words can help me keep from exalting myself. "It's not about me!" Lord help me humble myself before you, listen to your direction in my life and always remember these four words!
It's not about me!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 NKJV)
Daylight savings time ends this weekend. I'm sorry to see it go. I know it's not popular, but I love it during the summer. Sure, Saturday night it will take a while to reset the clocks and there are some businesses that it hurts. There are also some that it helps. Regardless, getting those extra hours of daylight on the motorcycle is awesome or the extra fun times on the beach more than make up the inconveniences. The dark and gloom of winter is just around the corner and I will long for the sun drenched afternoons of summer. I love the light.
I do know people who love the night. They don't really come to life until after hours. Night, to me, has one sole purpose.............SLEEP! Yet, these night owls don't see it the same way. They want to party all night. In my 53 years of life there is more harm than good taking place at night. 63% of rapes and 71% of car thefts occur at night. (Wiki.answers.com) Night time is a time for no good.
When Jesus came to this earth, he brought with him a great light. People didn't notice it then and they are still not noticing. Jesus Christ is our light. He destroys darkness and the evil accompanying it. Bring his light into this cold dark world. We need the warmth, the light, and the Love!
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:8 NKJV)
Do you know anyone who doesn't know love? I am saddened by the thought. I see it every day in school students. You can see it In a students attitude, body, and language. I used to be surprised by knowing someone that doesn't have love in their life. It seems to be so much more common than ever before. It just speaks to the urgency of our need to share Christ. God is love. Those people that don't know God, don't know love. Sure they can experience earthly love. The kind of love that is temporary and shallow compared to the love of God. Until they know God they won't know the type of love that is unchanging, permanent, and deep within the heart.
As Christians we have such a powerful responsibility to love those that don't know God. We need to go out into this lost and lonely world, find the downtrodden, the hopeless, and bring them to Christ. Once they find the endless love of Christ, they will know love. The unloved will realize true love that is everlasting. We have to share Christ not by words, but by actions. We need to give with no strings, love with no contract, and care with a heart that is pure. We need to Love for love's sake.
Monday, October 28, 2013
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:12 NKJV)
Rejoicing in in Heaven is not a right earned in this life. You and I can't do enough good to earn heavens eternal reward. It's really is even easier than that. We just have to receive Jesus as our savior and God gives us the right to join him. HE GIVES us the right. He gives us the rights of joining the family.
My family is getting together this weekend. All except my youngest daughter, Kelley. I so wish she could be with us. Being together as a family is so much fun. Staying involved with each other, watching them grow and mature, laughing, and playing are what family is all about. God's family is the same thing. Once you have received him, you enjoy the the activities of the family. God's family loves to share with each other, helping each other grow and mature, laughing, and playing together. I love doing that through Church and my CMA family. It's not true to say I've earned the right. I haven't earned it. It was given to me by the Grace of my Heavenly Father. I am blessed to be a part of my Church and CMA. It's a gift. Praise God for his mercy and grace.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
I cleaned out the garage today. Put the mower in the shed, packed away the camper, replaced the furnace filter, checked out the garage heater, and parked the car in the garage. I'm ready for winter. Sure, we'll probably have an Indian Summer at some point. But, winter is on the way. Hoosiers know what the change of seasons looks like. The cornfield behind our house is now empty. Things are changing.
I used to love the change of seasons. Being a motorcyclist and having a wife that physically has difficulty handling winter, I could do without the change. I like stability and warmth. My 35 years of marriage, my family, and most of all My God provides me with consistent, never ending love. I can rely on it. There is no greater feeling in life than the love of a God when I rise and when I lie down at night. There is no more comfort than the love offered freely by Jesus! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Friday, October 25, 2013
God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say.... (1 Timothy 5:21-23 MSG)
I have reached a place in my life where I'm not concerned about my critics. Our society is full of critics. Most people are selfish when it comes to analyzing others. I like to trying new things and I'm not afraid of failure. I am always analyzing what I'm doing and how can I make it better. This is particularly true at school. I want to check my motives all the time. Am I doing something that is better for me or better for my students? I can't get stuck in old ways of teaching just because it's always been done that way. It's easier to keep doing what I've always been doing. That's not always what's best for kids. We need to stretch ourselves. Challenge tradition in favor of progress.
We have a lot of spiritual critics out there also. Some think riding a motorcycle for Christ is ridiculous. Taking Christ to a bar or "Sin filled" biker event is tantamount to blasphemy. Critics in the church are everywhere. We don't play the right music, the preacher doesn't preach the right way. We emphasize youth too little or too much. We've watered down the gospel message or are too tough. When it comes down to it, we have one critic that matters. The only analyst we should call upon is The Lord. His opinion is the only one that matters. If God calls us, we have to go! If the spirit leads us to the lions den, we should not hesitate. We need to ignore the noise of earthly opinions and listen only to the voice of our creator. Can a person be wrong following the voice of the Father? NO WAY! Satan wants to place doubt in our minds. He doesn't want us to grow or change. His voice comes through many of the people in our daily lives. We need to learn to be more sensitive to Gods voice than the voice of our detractors!
IGNORE THE CRITICS, LIVE YOUR LIFE FOR CHRIST!