Friday, January 31, 2014

Wild Horses!

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9 NIV)

I was never really good at riding horses. I only did it a few times. Most of my experience is with tame, VERY domesticated horses. I believe regardless what I did, they would walk down the trail in the perfect path. It wasn't much of a challenge. Secretly I have wanted, just once, to ride a horse on the open range. It's the same freedom I get from riding a motorcycle on the open road. I love riding my Iron Horse out west. The wide open spaces of the west are my favorite places to ride. It gives me the feeling of living back in the day of  wagon trains, the Calvary, long off the land. I love adventure!

We are very much like the wild horses that wander this country. We are hard to tame and not very easy to control. Without the Spirit of God we are out of control and miss the greatest blessing of life. God has given us the Spirit to direct our lives much like the bridle and reigns of a horse. He gently tugs and pulls us one direction or another. We often fight it like a wild bucking bronco. But, he is patient and continues to try to tame us. The difference is when I yield to him and let him guide my life, the real adventure begins. It is then that we experience true freedom and a life field with wild blessings!

I praise God for his love and direction in my life. I beg forgiveness for the times I fight Him. I know his plan is more amazing than any plan I could come up with. I am so thankful he is patient with me even after 53 years of trying to direct my life. Praise God for his honor and grace!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Be a faithful and wise manager

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? (Luke 12:42 NIV)

In my career, before education and even for eleven years in education, I was a manager. In my experience managing people and resources for companies and schools the key was taking care of my people. Any school or business is only as great as their weakest employee. As a manager it was always critical to do everything in your power to make your people better. More often than not that was easier if you treated them with compassion and set the example. I would never ask someone to do something I wasn't willing to do. I would never go on vacation to leave the work to someone else during peak times. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave. I was more frugal with others money than my own. I would fight for my employees to make sure they had all the tools to be successful. I never asked for exceptions or special treatment as a manager. My dedication was for the company or the school. My customers or students were the focus of all my decisions. I enjoyed my time as a supervisor immensely. Now that I sit back and serve quietly, I think I'm a better person knowing what those in leadership go through on a daily basis. I loved my role then and love it now just the same.

God is the ultimate manager. He alone sets our leadership role model. God has provided us with all the support and tools we need to be successful. He sacrificed his own son for us. Even now he provides love, guidance, and wisdom through the Holy Spirit. God never abandons us to work alone. His support comes in everything we do. We need to do the same in our culture. We need to set the example, out work others, be more compassionate, be more loving. 

Praise God for his patience and dedication to making me a better person. Lord I know you provide resources not just for my selfish gain. You provide them for me to further the kingdom. Thank you for trusting this sinner even when I don't deserve it. Praise a God for this wonderful life of service to him. May I be an example for others as your are the standard for us. We need to love like you do and serve like you do. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Proud to be a Railroader!

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3:17, 18 MSG)

I just love this paraphrase. It states what I believe is the key to a Christ centered life.

My community, Garrett, Indiana set a great example how these verses can be lived-out today. Tonight we hosted a Special Olympics basketball game. It was like nothing I've ever seen. Our entire community was there acting like it was the state finals. We had a rowdy band, spotlight introductions, great cheerleading, and fans that truly got into the game. These special men and women were treated with dignity and honor they deserve. It's hard to describe the looks on their faces as they took the court. I am so proud of my community for taking the time to do this. It was an authentic outpouring of love for a group of people that are often forgotten and neglected. 

As Christians we aren't always the most caring people. We don't always get along well with others. We are not always gentle and reasonable. My own life has had moments of hot and cold in terms of my Christian living. It is hard work and is made even harder when you have to develop relationships with "the enemy" or the "unloveable". It is easy to ignore and ridicule the unfortunate and handicapped. But we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve people. All people. We are called to bring light into darkness, joy into hopelessness. Jesus did exactly that.

Tonight my little Midwest town raised the bar for those that follow Christ. We need to treat everyone with dignity, honor, and respect. We need to follow the gentleness and consistency of our Lord when dealing with those near and dear, but also with those that are tough to love. Thank you, Garrett, for loving beyond yourselves for nothing in return. Thank You Garrett for your willingness to serve others in a selfless way!

 I am proud to be a Railroader!

Under Attack!

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

Christians are under attack. We started as a country formed on the principles of God. As we developed and became more prosperous we turned from God. Slowly God was taken out of our daily lives. The pendulum is still moving. We are moving to a Godless society. The movement has turned to an all out attack on the Church and on people of faith. Even our government, created because of oppression, has gone on the attack. Our own government would oppress its most loving and giving citizens. Our attackers claim we lack tolerance when they do not tolerate our views and beliefs. It's a double standard.

Even through all this, we can not forget what we are about. We need to take the high road. We are not to condemn the world. We are to love them and share the perfect love of Jesus. I don't care if it's gays, Atheists, politicians, terrorists, the immoral, or other Christian attackers. We are not to condemn. We are called to love and witness in the camp of the enemy. We are the only hope for these people. We are the hope for the world. If we condemn and destroy relationships we will not have the opportunities to witness. 

Praise God for his love and protection for us in a world that is attacking us on all sides. Praise God he is in control and we know he is the ultimate victor. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

53 years is not enough

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12 KJV)

I have lived for over 53 years and am a little dissappointed in my impact. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to compare myself to Christ. He lived only 33 years on this planet and look at his impact. Even if you can't get to the point of the truth of who Jesus is, you have to admit there is no one that has had such an impact on world history. That alone should give you pause to evaluate who Jesus is. Don't evaluate Christians. Evaluate Christ! 

I am not a great Christian to evaluate. I am far from perfect and like Paul said, I might be the chief sinner. 53 years is not enough to make an impact like I want. My only real goal in life is to bring others to know Christ and accept him as The Lord of their lives. But, don't spend time digging deeper into Christians, dig deeper into Christ. He alone is worthy of the honour, glory, and praise. All the rest of us fall WAY short of that goal. Don't look at our selfishness, our judgmental attitudes, our split personalities, or our indifference to suffering. Look at Christ. Look at his love, grace, and mercy. Look at his sacrifice on the cross. This single person has captivated the entire world for over 2000 years. There has to be something supernatural about that kind of impact. It can't be just chance. It can't be something dreamed up by 12 men who lost their leader. Jesus was special because he was the son of God and overcame death on the cross to save those who come to him.

I ask forgiveness from God for my failings. I want to represent you as an example but know I fall short. Help me to direct people to You, not to me and my life. Help me to continue to work toward your perfection and work to being a better Christian to those who do not know you. I love you and praise you for your power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God's in control of the weather!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19 NIV)

It's nearing the end of January and the weather has been miserable. Snow, wind, sub zero temps and school closings have filled the month. So, guess what I've been doing! Planning our 2014 Summer Vacation Motorcycle trip. We are heading to the northeast, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Nova Scotia, Montreal, Quebec, The idea of riding in the warm summer sun will have to be enough to get me through until spring break. Then I can relax in Florida for a week to rejuvenate! I haven't started a count down yet, but SOON. It gives me hope to think this will all come to an end and Spring WILL arrive. While I was out shoveling today I ran my motorcycle. It was good to hear the roar of the pipes!

Still through all things I praise God. He provides all things. I read a devotion the other day that said why do we pray for rain (or to stop snowing)? Do we think God doesn't know what he's doing? Do we think he needs our help with the weather? God brings the terrible conditions of winter for a reason. One of those reasons is to provide the stark contrast and refreshing feel of Spring. It's the same with our life. If everything coasts along perfect, we ignore and turn from God. Having trials and stresses in life points us back to our Heavenly Father. We complain about those troubles, but we NEED them. It has been true from the Old Testament to today. We are a stubborn and forgetful people. When God gives us everything, we forget him.

I'm sitting here warm inside my home looking out over a wind blown, barren, brutally cold landscape. God knows what he's doing. He is in charge of all things including the weather. 

God is good ALL THE TIME!

All the time, God is good!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The power of forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

God can do what man can not and will not. We always talk about the power of God in creating natural wonders or the miracles he performs. Yet, there is no greater miracle or wonder than when God forgives our sin. If you think it's so easy, try to forgive someone who has killed one of your family members. Try to forgive a spouse who cheated on you. Try to forgive someone that publicly ridicules you and verbally abuses you. For some of us we have a difficult time even forgiving a driver who cuts us off or pulls out in front of us. God does it for all. If there were ever anyone with the right to withhold forgiveness, God has the right. Look at how he is treated in this country alone. He has been mocked, and ridiculed in ruthless ways. It's only getting worse. Yet, he still openly forgives and forgets our transgressions, even if they are directed at him.

God puts no qualification on which sin he forgives and which he doesn't. If we confess it to him, he forgives it. Not only does he forgive, he purifies. If we could just learn a little of that forgiveness, that grace, our own lives would be much richer. The power of forgiveness is found for both the forgiver and the forgiven. I praise God he no longer remembers my sins. I praise God he loves me so much that he sacrificed his own son for the forgiveness of my sins. Lord help me to be as forgiving to others as you are to me. Fill me with your spirit, your grace, and your love.

Life's Struggles

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1 NIV)

When I read this verse I think "What are the things above?" Then I  read further. You get two lists of examples. One is a list of things of this world:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (Colossians 3:1, 5, 8, 9 NIV)

You also get a list of the things of Heaven:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 NIV)

You can't get any clearer the most important things in life. Those who know me, know I struggle with some of the things on both lists. I am confident we all do. My faith is not some "pie in the sky" faith. Those of us who follow Christ don't think we're perfect, we profess just the opposite. We are all sinners. You can't let your sins keep you from the saving grace of Jesus. Just because you fail at some of the things of Heaven, or struggle with the things of this world, God understands and loves you anyway. You don't have to be perfect to come to him. He will help create a new person within your heart if you just turn to his love. When you do, you just naturally  begin to clothe yourselves in the gifts of his spirit. You don't perfect them. It's a growing process and God loves you through everyone of your struggles along the way. Don't wait to be perfect before seeking Christ.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sharing comfort!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 NIV)

It's been 13 years since my fathers journey to Heaven. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was and still is such a great loss in our family. Since that day, I have had the opportunity to attend many funerals. Recently, I attended the viewing of a father of one of my students. It was a sudden loss and the devastation was intense for this family. I understood what they were going through. My Dad suffered a debilitating stroke. A month ago I made a hospital visit to a family that eventually lost their mother from a sudden stroke. I understood what they were going through. I have had plenty trouble in my life. I would not wish pain on anyone. God feels our pain. He knows what it's like to lose a son. He stands with us and comforts us when we go through troubles in life. We can use those experiences to comfort others including those that don't know Jesus. Those who do not call themselves Christians need special comfort. Sometimes our greatest witness to the lost comes from our ability to comfort them.

As troubles come in your life, you have two choices. You can either turn your hurt and loss inward or you can turn to Christ for comfort and compassion. If you can accept the comfort from the Son of God, you will have the opportunity to pass that support to someone else. It is a wonderful gift to pass on.

The tossing sea!

But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:20, 21 NIV)

Many years ago, Stephanie and I had a foster son. He recently retired from the Navy. We are so proud of him and the life he has lived. We are also envious that he now lives in Hawaii. It's below zero here in Indiana and we have a windchill of -25. Early in his Navy career he invited me to come on a family cruise with him. It was great, with one exception. I got sea sick. A Navy ship isn't a luxury liner. I was fine until the evening when I tried to sleep in the Small Birth of a seaman. I couldn't handle it. We ended up spending the night on deck.

Some peoples lives are just like that trip on the waves. Their lives are filled with turmoil, conflict, and unrest. I see so many kids with lives that are the same way. They need peace and the best way to find real peace is through Jesus Christ. Family conflict, job strife, broken relationships, and financial issues do not need to destroy your life like a tidal wave. Jesus can provide peace. I know because it is true in my own life. The more I lean on him. The greater the peace, the clearer the direction.

 Praise God for the joy and peace he provides in my life. His plan is perfect. When I allow him to rule my day, the blessings are abundant!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blind Runner

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:18 NIV)

Many years ago I was running a 5k race in a wooded nature reserve. To this day it is still one of my favorite races. I was about 2 miles into the race when I came upon a blind runner. The only reason I knew he was blind is that he had a tshirt indicating he was blind. I ran up beside him and started a friendly conversation. As he and I were talking I tripped over a tree root. How ironic that I tripped and the blind man didn't. We had a good  laugh.  He explained to me that he ran by seeing only patches of light and dark. He literally ran toward the light and PICKED UP HIS FEET!

How fitting a story for this verse. Even those of us with keen sight need help with our vision. Like the cliche says, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. We may think we see everything there is to see, but when God opens our eyes, we really find out what we've been missing. We need to work hard to run toward the light. It takes focus and concentration. There are so many things in life to distract us. Those distractions keep us from the blessings God intended. Even us Christians will trip on some roots. We need to learn to focus on the light and pick up our feet. We can do that by constant prayer, studying Gods word, and worship with our brothers and sisters. We can do that b serving others and searching out the lost.

We are not in this race alone. God is with us. He is there to help pick us up when we trip and fall. He is there to provide guidance and direction. He is there to celebrate when we win and encourage us when the race gets long. Praise Gid for his love and the wonderful race of life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Make the most of every opportunity!

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15, 16 NIV)

I have put my neck on the line. For the last two years I have fought the battle over homework at school. I grew up doing homework and assigning it. I can say, more often than not, it was merely busy work. Furthermore, I have been an outspoken advocate for change in education. I specifically believe Math education needs to change. As Math teachers we have touted the value of our curriculum. In reality, we really just teach computation. Now with the onslaught of technology, computational math is virtually unnecessary. Being able to THINK mathematically is the real value in our curriculum.

You may ask how this applies to Christ. I am privileged to spend 6 1/2 hours every day with some amazing young people. They have so much to learn to get ready to be Responsible, Productive Citizens. Spending time on useless teaching is not the best use of our time. We need to spend more time teaching critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and communication instead of computation and fact memorization. Time is wasting. We need to take every opportunity to truly prepare our young people.

As a Christian I need to do the same thing. I can not waste opportunities to share Christ. Yet, I do it all the time. We live in evil times and we can not afford to squander the message. We need to constantly prepare ourselves to actively persue the lost. We need to serve, openly share Gods love, challenge and defend the Gospel against those who would destroy it. I need to stop beating around the bush and get to the heart of the matter. We all need Jesus. We need to fall on our face and beg forgiveness for our stupidity, selfishness, and rejection of our creator. We need to praise God for his patience, grace, and love. The time is now. Lives hang in the balance.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The wise believe!

The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:9 NIV)

I loves the television show "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" . It was amazing to see intelligent, educated people, unable to answer even the easiest question. My favorite is when a lady could not remember the name of the country north of the United States. I have seen reporters on the street ask some really simple questions and multiple people unable to answer. I am equally amazed when people don't know who Jesus is. 

Who is Jesus?

The truth is you have only two choices. You either believe he is the son of God or you reject him. Some people try to say he was a great teacher or a profit. He was. But those are only characteristics of his life. Wise people try to explain away his life and his impact the past two thousand years. Scholars and educated people see no proof. They reject what they can not see.   All of life boils down to one simple question? Do you believe Jesus is the son of God? If you believe yes, then your life will be amazing. If you say no, you will be put to shame. You will be dismayed and trapped, trapped in death with no future. 

When Jesus comes again, those "wise" people will perish. They really have no wisdom and no future. The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:9 NIV)

Dear Lord, help me reach the wise and arrogant. Help me be the example of your life. Help us deliver the scholar that rejects you to replace you with "science". May your spirit live within me to serve the lost. Thank you Jesus for your love, patience, and kindness!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Displaying your muscle!

For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17 NIV)

We have our high school athletes lift weights at least twice a week during our season and three times a week during the off season. It makes a huge difference. As our athletes mature into seniors, they grow more confident as the get stronger. Strength is very practical as you play sports. It is also has a psychological impact on your opponents. When you display your power during a contest, your opponent is intimidated and weaker opponents back down. They lose hope. Just the introduction of a basketball player that is physically "ripped" is enough to intimidate your opponents even before the game begins.

God displays his power through us. As we become stronger in our faith, we become more confident. As we grow in confidence we become a real force in saving the lost. Just the presence of a mature, strong Christian influences a situation. I see this all the time with my Christian Motorcyclist family. As we attend biker events we greatly influence what happens at those events. As we study his word, pray, and worship we are better equipped with a powerful witness. Be ready to display your faith muscle at all times. Be strong enough to stand up to the weak and sinful world we live in. 

Praise God for the wonderful strength he gives us. Praise God he has confidence in us to display his strength. Lord, give us the strength to serve those that need us the most. Help us to stay focused on you in everything we do.Amen!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Open up!

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5 KJV)

Do you ever say one thing and do another? I do this, especially with my prayers. Many times I ask for God's will and get mad when his will doesn't match my own. I say I want his will but, "he better use my timing!" When I do this it's not exactly TRUSTING in The Lord. But my God knows me. He knows my thoughts, my wants, my needs, and everything about me. So when I fight his will he is not surprised. It's been going on since Adam.

Look at how these verses are written in the Message: 

Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. (Psalm 37:5, 6 MSG)

I like two things about this paraphrase. It gets to the heart of prayer. It's ok to come to with everything to God. Open up to him with YOUR plans, YOUR timing, and YOUR wants. If we are open and honest with him, he will validate our life. This wonderful paraphrase doesn't say he will do what ever we want. It says he will do whatever NEEDS to be done. He will honor our openness NOT by giving us everything we want. He will bless us beyond anything we could hope for in our own plan. 

God has a vision we could never hope to have. He hears our cry and answers those cries in the very best way FOR US. It might not be in our own timing, it might not be in our own way. He will respond in a way that is best for us. So, does that mean we shouldn't share our plans, timing, and wants? NO! We need to open up our hearts to The Lord. We need to share it all. We need to plead, CRY OUT, and OPEN UP, to The Lord with all things and in all circumstances. As we progress through our lives we will see the blessings and how God has answered our prayers. Our prayers will naturally change. I have seen it for myself. God has not punished me for my selfish prayers. He understands them and because I have committed my life to him and asked him to take my life, he honors that. Praise God he knows me! Praise God he wants me to turn my life over to him, but he wants us to be a part of that plan. He wants us to open our hearts to him on all things and then he will take control. He is amazing. His plan is amazing. My life is amazing only through him!
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to. (1 John 3:1 MSG)

I love being a teacher. I get to see, first hand, some really great kids. I'm not their father, but I am just as proud. It is common, and has been for decades, to look at our youth in negative terms. Old people compare the youth of today to their past. It's easy to look back 30 or more years and only remember the great things. One of the things I enjoy most about young people is their idealism. They truly believe they can solve the worlds problems. As adults, we just don't take them seriously. I get to see first hand what goes through their minds and I am optimistic about what they can accomplish.

Christians are very similar to the youth of today. A lot of people just don't take us seriously. They don't believe in the power of the Love of Jesus Christ. They scoff at our idealism. They are skeptical of our service attitude. They can't believe people would actually extend a helping hand without reward.

We need to continue to share that childlike love with the lost. We need to hold on to that teenage idealism of saving the world. Our Father is proud of us and loves us even when we fail. We need to do the same with our youth. We need to encourage them, laugh with them, and give them every opportunity to get the most out of life. The example of our own lives can be the life that leads them to Christ. If we can get enough of our youth to come to that saving relationship with Christ, they truly will save the world.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's simple, it's fact!

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9 NIV)

This is our message. It doesn't get any clearer than this. God sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. 

I am a direct person. I don't like to mince words, sugar coat things, and I have little tolerance for people that do. Many times that makes it appear I am cold, heartless, and without compassion. But, I like the idea you know where I stand on an issue. If you agree, great. If you disagree, that's ok too. I'm not going to hold it against you and I'm not going to love you any less. I just want to know where you stand. Do you believe that Jesus Christ came to Earth, was the son of God, defeated death on the cross to deliver you from eternal death? There is no middle ground, there is no maybe. Either you do or you don't.

People need to know, if you don't have Christ you will die. If you do, you will have eternal life. It's simple, it's fact. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Love My Church!

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1 NIV)

I really love going to church. My wife and I missed the last two Sundays. I was sick on one of those and church got cancelled due to a snowstorm on the other. When we went this past Sunday, it was good to be there. 

I attend a great church that works hard at serving its members. Worship is grounded in great biblical teaching and authentic praise. We have recently built a new sanctuary and it really looks like we are continuing to grow. God has blessed our church. He has provided great leadership and people to attend who are genuinely interested in growing closer to God. I rejoice when I have the opportunity to go to the house of The Lord. Praise God for this wonderful place of worship.

My commitment to weekly worship is not out of obligation, it is out of desire. I have attended weekly worship for every year of my life. You would think after attending at least 2500 worship services in my life, they would have lost their luster. Yet, I learn something new and am touched by every service. I think is an attitude. If you go to church with an open heart and mind, God will speak to you. If you go with the attitude of drudgerie or obligation, you will not receive ll the blessings of the Holy Spiirit. Rejoice in the freedom to worship. Rejoice in going to the house of The Lord! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Have you ever been persecuted for Christ?

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:16 NIV)

When have you come the closest to being persecuted as a Christian? I have lived a pretty sheltered life. Sure I've heard coworkers poke light hearted fun at Christians. I really never heard anything very offensive. I certainly have heard reports through the media and on the news that were hurtful and downright abusive toward Christs followers. I'm not really talking about those things. 

I'm asking if you have ever felt threatened or worse because you were a Christian?

I can't say I have ever felt like my life was being threatened. I've attended some pretty rough biker events where alcohol, drugs, and sex were rampant. I met a young man this summer who said his mom brought him. He didn't want to be there. His mom thought he should experience the "party". He told me that his mom hated it that we were there. He, even though he was not a believer, defended us to his own mom. He was persecuted more than I was for wanting to hangout with those Christians. This non Christian "seeker" was more bold than most Christians.

I'm sad to say that most Christians shelter themselves from persecution. It is so much easier to witness in "safe" places. Christ didn't confine his ministry to church like environments. He went to the sick, the outcast, the enemy, the sinner, the possessed. He did not fear for his life. He feared more of losing the eternal life of others. 

I praise God he has protected me when I attend biker events in ministry. I ask all followers of Christ to be bold. Go to areas where it makes you feel uncomfortable. Go to places where you are a minority and share God's love. Put pressure on your Church to serve as missionaries, not just across the globe, but in dark places right here in our own country. We must penetrate the darkness with his love and when necessary suffer persecution to save the lives of others. We are the hands and feet of Christ in all the world!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Enemy

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10 NIV)

By definition an enemy is someone who is actively opposed or hostile to someone.

Are you an enemy of God? 

My guess if you're a regular reader of these posts you don't consider yourself as hostile or opposing God. Yet, this world and even our own country has become more and more hostile to Christianity. It has become popular to actively oppose God and it is being done so in a more aggressive way everyday.

 God isn't phased by it. I would say he has come to expect it. This verse is testimony that being an enemy of God is not new. It is exactly that type of hatred that brought the creator of the universe to down to Earth. He sent his son to die for the enemy in hopes of reconciliation. He doesn't  care how vehemently he is opposed. He doesn't care how extreme the hatred, he came to die for the enemy so that the enemy might reconcile and enjoy eternal life. I would say that's amazing.

I pray that Christians around the world and my own brothers and sisters will not turn from the enemy. I pray we will face them with the love and the strength of our savior Jesus Christ. I pray we will serve those that hate us and keep on serving, even unto death. We can not be intimidated by those that oppose us. We can not compromise and we can not back down. We can not give up sharing. We may never know our impact. We may never see the fruits, but we can not be denied the right to spread the message of Jesus love. In some ways our own "inaction" is as damaging to the kingdom of God as actively opposing it. To sit passively on the sidelines while the lost perish could make us just as much an enemy as any nonbeliever. We should know better. Help save a life through the love of Christ.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Keep your head!

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5 NIV)

A few months back I was having a conference with a student and parent that was not particularly positive. As happens so often in education, the parents were defensive and protecting their student. Oh, things have changed. Back in the day, my parents would have assumed I was guilty. There would be no plea deal, no hope for me and nothing but appreciation for the teacher who pointed out my shortcoming. The adult always got the benefit of the doubt. I long for those days and parents that support the teacher. After, the meeting, one of my coworkers commented how amazed they were at my ability to keep my cool. I can't really explain it myself because I really felt attacked. My only explanation is God. Whenever I go into a potentially difficult parent meeting, I pray. I pray for wisdom, discernment, patience, and words to properly convey my message. I am amazed at the power of this little prayer.

Teaching is one of my ministries. I am so worried about representing my faith in a positive way through difficult times. I can't say I'm perfect in doing this, but I can say I have had some extraordinary experiences. 

If we work to "keep our heads" even through difficulty, God is faithful. If we turn every little aspect of our lives over to him, he will support us. It's not just the major crisis we need to seek God's help. We need to seek him through all things and in all circumstances. Praise God he loves us so much and cares about us so deeply, he is always with us!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Robin Hood

And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Luke 12:13-15 KJV)

I want the poor to be taken care of. I want them to have jobs, education, and the same quality of life that I have. HOWEVER, I do not believe in the "Robin Hood" method of wealth redistribution. 

Very few people look at these verses closely. Jesus is talking about coveting what your neighbor has.The philosophy of entitlement and redistribution is not what Jesus had in mind. We need to provide opportunities for the poor to help themselves, not just give handouts. I completely respect the CEO's of businesses. They worked hard for their money and the companies they work for. It is ridiculous to believe they should give up all their wealth. Sure, as a Christian of wealth you have the means to support the poor and should. I have to admit I am jealous of wealthy, at times. But I know it is envy more than need. Jesus was talking about the covetousness of the man ASKING for the wealth and NOT the excessive possessions of the wealthy man. In all fairness we don't know if the man asking for the money was considered poor. Jesus considered this request as a form of greed. Jesus didn't feel it was his place to step in and divide the excesses of the wealthy man.

You can not legislate Christian giving. As a matter of fact, our government keeps trying to limit the outreach of our Christian Heritage. Christianity is being attacked in many areas of life and specifically through the arms of our government. The birth of our savior has been attacked. Our society has made it a "sin" to follow Christ just like it's been made a "sin" to be wealthy. I'm not in the top 1%. I'm a middle class, school teacher. I have all that I need and will do all that I can to help the poor to get out of their poverty. I want the wealthy to do the same thing. If we want them to share more, we should work harder to win their hearts to Jesus. A Christian heart is a giving heart. Let's stop trying to ridicule and belittle the wealthy. Our government should be working hard to promote the Christian spirit, not trying to destroy the faith that leads to serving. We should love the wealthy just as much as the poor. Let's love the wealthy and lead them to Christ. Many already are and give huge amounts of money to help the poor and needy. It is not a sin to be wealthy. It is a sin to covet!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Living In-Step

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25 NIV)

I love watching a precision military march. The sound of every member of the unit marching 
In-step is powerful. I also love sharing time with people who are In-step with the Holy Spirit. I'm not an expert by any means, but being In-step with the Holy Spirit means listening and acting. 

Using the words "in step with the spirit" give the sense of movement and action. We need to live a life of action. We need to act on healing the sick, serving the poor, protecting the widows, and taking care of the orphans. I'm NOT talking about turning this over to some government program to do for us. I'm talking about US, as Christians, taking these causes and acting on them with our own hands and feet. You can't pass your calling to the government or your church. It's not good enough to give financial support. It isn't enough to pay your taxes to support welfare or health care. The poor, the lost, and the broken need to see our face. They need to see our hands and feet working for them without reward or judgment. 

Each of us is called into service by the Holy Spirit to serve. You don't have to do ALL these things, but you must do something. Too many of my brothers and sisters sit not he sidelines and don't step out to serve. Lord help us to serve each other in love. Help us to use our bodies as living testament to your love. Praise God for those who DO serve his kingdom.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Peace and security behind the curtains

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, (Hebrews 6:19 NIV)

It's day 3 of the Blizzard of 2014. After my initial "Snow War" on Sunday, I have settled in to the comfort and security of our wonderful home. God has blessed us with this great place to live, perfect for our needs. When the wind picked up and the temperatures started falling we closed all our curtains and blinds. With the fireplace going and the furnace running we are warm and peacefully secure. That hasn't been true for many residents of Dekalb County. Last night Auburn lost power for several hours and the night before many Garrett residents lost power. Most people didn't panic, they just did what they had to do to stay warm, be patient and trust in the Power Company to return their electric service.

I'm glad I have the hope and security of Jesus Christ. I can not imagine going through life without my savior. I can't imagine life without the Bible, prayer, or the fellowship of my fellow believers. Just like the security of my warm home, I have a hope that provides great peace and joy every day. Even through lifes storms and trials, I have a hope that is a firm and strong anchor. He is held in my heart and provides an inner sanctuary that is unimaginable. Thank you a Lord for the joy of your salvation!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Beauty in the midst of a blizzard!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

I spent all day yesterday fighting with a blizzard. We got over a foot of snow. It came down at rate of at least an inch an hour. I don't have a snowblower and didn't want to have to dig out of +12 inches of snow at one time. Plus the forecast, which has been verified this morning, is for subzero temps.

So now I'm sitting here after having a great breakfast with my wife and looking at the beautiful NEW snowfall. Sitting here in a warm home with the wind blowing the snow outside is really beautiful. The four foot drifts will be a lot of work to shovel from in front of the garage, but from my comfy chair, they look peaceful. 

Every day I renew my faith with Christ is just like the beauty of the new fallen snow. I DO need to renew that faith continuously. Because of my own sinfulness my "snow" gets dirty, it loses it's beauty. I am thankful I have a wonderful God who loves me and understands my weaknesses. I am thankful he provides time, even in the midst of a blizzard, to see his beauty and know he is here.

I pray today that everyone is safe from the dangerous conditions outside. Lord please protect those that must work in this. Bless the police department, fire department, electric workers, road crews, health care workers, and leaders in our community. Give them wisdom and strength to do their work and safety to return home. amen!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sample Salvation!

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24 NIV)

There are not too many things in this life that are free. Stephanie and I used o shop at SAMS club quite a bit. When the girls or grandkids were with us they would always seek out the free food samples. It was always great to try something you wouldn't pay for. It actually works. We have decided to by a NEW items after we tried the samples. 

Wouldn't it be great if people could try salvation at no cost. WAIT! They can! The song AMAZING GRACE is one of the most popular songs ever. Popular 'Amazing Grace' still going strong after 200 years | The Augusta Chronicle According to this article the song has been recorded over 6,600 times, more than Handels Messiah and How Great Thou Art. This song describes the FREE grace we receive from the Death and Ressurection of our Savior. There is no contract, no legal document, we just have to accept it. 

I just don't understand why people won't sample the salvation of Christ. If we come to Christ and accept him as Lord of Our lives, we don't need to DO anything else. He will make himself known and the perfect grace will become more and more apparent in your life. If we admit we are sinners and need Christ, he will do the rest. If we can just "muster" the faith of a mustard seed God will take over and change you from the inside. We are all sinners and will always fall short of the mark. God doesn't care about that. Grace means he doesn't care about that. He just wants you to come to him. 

All I can say is try it! Sure it would be great for you to be a biblical scholar, prayer warrior, servant to the lost, but you don't have to do that first. It will happen out of your changed heart. If you sample salvation, you will come back for more. Your heart will long for the love of Christ and it will fill every part of your life! You will be eternally blessed.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)

I am really enjoying my Billy Graham daily devotionals. I had another good one today. I thought I would share his thoughts with my own.

I worked in the business world for 15 years before I became a teacher. I loved it. I worked for some great companies and bosses. I worked hard to do my best for those companies and people. Sometimes I might have worked too hard. I made sure my department always stayed within budget. We were frugal in our spending. I was proud of the quality of my work and I made sure the people that worked for me represented the company in the best possible way. The people I worked with, from top to bottom felt the same way. I think that's why our companies were so successful. Now I do the same thing for my school. The teachers and administrators do the same thing. We really work hard to do what's best for kids. We're not satisfied until we get the best out of every student. We are never satisfied to lose a student. We strive ALWAYS for 100% graduation and graduating responsible, productive citizens.

My devotional asked this question: Do I work just as hard for God as I do for my school or business? I think you would agree his kingdom is worth far more  than any business or school here on Earth. He is the ultimate boss. Do I work harder for my "Earthly Boss" or my "Heavenly Boss". Which one pays me more? I get both earthly and heavenly rewards from God and nothing but earthly rewards from my school.  I say I'm a dedicated Christian, but what does it say when I work harder at my job than bringing others to Christ. Is my job more important than my relationship with the creator of the universe? Is my job more important than bringing others to know him?  I can definitely SAY no. Do my actions back up my words? 

God has given each of us wonderful gifts. I use those gifts every day when I work. God gave me my gifts for his glory and purpose. I am to serve him through everything I do. My earthly and heavenly jobs are one and the same. I need to change my priorities. That doesn't mean neglect work. It means pore myself into serving others and being the best "Jesus" people see.

Lord please help me to use my gifts for you, not just at work but in everything I do. Help me to serve others at school so they will see you through me. You mean everything to me and I beg your forgiveness when I put you second on my list of priorities. You should be number one, always. Thank you for your patience and your unwavering love for me!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Be nice in 2014!

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love. (Romans 14:19-21 MSG)

I love these verses from the message. It is so true. I just got through reading Facebook and the political battles are heating up again. It's not just the battle between republicans and democrats, it's not just liberals vs conservatives, or msnbc vs Fox News. The battle is like the civil war, family vs family, hatfields vs mccoys. We put so much of our energy into these battles. Instead let's agree to disagree and then spend our time encouraging and not finding fault. These silly battles have been going on forever. Do you remember the Pharisees? They battled over some crazy things. Food, days of the week, rules, politics, taxes , religion, were all frontline battles. It was ridiculous. 

Are you looking for a New Years Resolution? Take all your social media accounts and use them EXCLUSIVELY for uplifting and encouraging your friends and enemies! Yep, even your enemies. Don't fill it full of sarcasm or sick humor. Use your words to build bridges, not tear them down. We can find faults with everyone and everything, including ourselves. Let's not key on those and key on the positive. Don't beat yourself up and don't beat up your enemies! Make the commitment! We can change the tone of our society by starting right now!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's personal!

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV)

I was just reading my daily devotion and stricken with a simple truth. Christianity is not about doctrine, philosophy, or creed, it's about people. Real people are the center of our faith. None are more real than the person of Christ. Christ brings our faith to this world. His presence here is an example for our lives today. Jesus loved people while he walked the Earth and he loves us just as much right now. We need to take his example and love in the same way. We need to love the woman at the well, we need to love the sick, the orphans, the widows, and most importantly, the sinner, just like he did. Our faith, in action, needs to be on a personal level. I don't always do this. I put my doctrine, my beliefs, above people. It's not about what I believe it's about Jesus. If I make it about anything else, That's wrong!

Lord teach me to really love people. Teach me to share the abundant love you have given me. I don't know how to do this on my own, I need you directing me. Keep my thoughts pure and my motives a mirror of your own. Please be patient with me, but firm in your guidance. I love you and praise you with all my heart.