Browsing "Prayer"

The Story of Jesus

story-of-jesusThis morning I was looking for some music that would be appropriate preservice/post-service music for a funeral which I am doing today. Usually I use the same spotify playlist for each funeral I do.  Most of it is soft piano music.  This morning I wanted something different.  I did a quick search for Devotional Piano music and one of the albums that came up was called Piano Hymns.  Now I don’t listen to hymns very often but I do have a deep love of them and they are part of my Christian heritage.  They bring a lot of great memories to mind.

So I started playing the album to see what it was like. The first song that played was a song called “Tell Me The Story of Jesus.”  A song I have always liked. As I listened to that old hymn I began to think about the message of the funeral today. I have been seeking the Holy Spirit this week and have asked Him what He wants me to say.  I have done many, many funerals and the messages are pretty similar.  But I knew all week that this one is supposed to be different.  So I have asked this every day; “Father, what do You want to say to them?”

I have indeed heard from Him what He wants to communicate today but as I was listening to that hymn the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me. Tell them my story.  Tell them the story of Jesus.

Isn’t that we are all called to do as His children.  We tell others the story of Jesus, what He has done, what He paid for us, what happened after three days in the grave, what happened after appearing to the crowds, how he is active now, and what He is going to do for us at the Father’s appointed time.

We are not called as Christians, as Pastors, as Teachers, as friends etc to be elaborate and impressive on our own.  The gospel of Jesus is the most impressive thing truth to our existence and we must at all cost tell people that story.  God wants to save! God wants to call wayward children back to Himself!  God wants to cleanse the vilest sinner and make him or her clean.

So today as I speak to a crowd that may or may not know Jesus my duty is not my own message but my duty is to tell them the true story of Jesus.  His story changes everything!

National Day of Prayer – My Prayer

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Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States of America.  Now more than ever we need to beg and plead for our country.  Even more than praying for our country we need to pray for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children who have turned away from the one true God.  Maybe in words they have not, but their actions and new found beliefs show their true spiritual state.  We shouldn’t be surprised that people are turning away from the One True God and seeking out their own desires rather than God’s.  2 Timothy 3  gives us a clear description of what people will be like in the end times.

2 Timothy 3 1-5     “1But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

There are many people that I know and love that have left the faith for Modernity.  It breaks my heart that they abandon their creator and throw his marvelous work of redemption aside and turn to vain religion.  They pick what they want to believe in scripture when all of Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Timothy 3:15-17  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”)  

Why is it that culture seems to have more authority over people these days than Scripture.  I do not want to get into a battle but I will say this.  If scripture calls something sin….it is sin.  Culture does not decide God’s mandates.  God’s Word never changes.  Sin is sin.  Oh that we could have more men like Polycarp.

If you are unfamiliar with his name let me tell you a bit about this great man of God that lived approximately between 70 -150 AD.  Polycarp is said to have been discipled by the Apostle John before his death.  Now we cannot say that for sure but there is historical evidence that suggests this.  Polycarp came to know Christ at an early age however it wasn’t until age 86 that he faced being martyred  for his belief in Christ.  Polycarp heard the news that the Romans knew his whereabouts and were coming to get him.  Although his friends abandoned him, he knew he was to take a stand for Jesus Christ.  As he spent two hours in prayer before his capture he knew that he would be burned at the stake but was determined to not forsake the name of Jesus.

Upon being taken captive he was taken to a proconsul where Statius Quadratus interrogated him.  He was told if he renounced his faith and said that Caesar is Lord  that his life would be spared and he would be freed.  They taunted him and they tried to scare him with talks about being thrown to wild beasts which was not yet common practice in Rome.  All they were asking for was for him to say Jesus isn’t Lord.  Some of us would have simply been tempted to say it to get out of there, but not Polycarp!  They finally said they would burn him at the stake if he didn’t recant .  Polycarp told Quadratus that while the proconsul’s fire lasts but a little while, the fires of judgment (“reserved for the ungodly,” ) cannot be quenched. These were his exact words. “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

At that the Roman soldiers went to nail him to the stake and Polycarp responded again  “Leave me as I am. For he who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.” He prayed aloud, the fire was lit, and he remained there undaunted. God was glorified and we have his example.  His death gave Christians for ages to come the example of an unwavering faith & trust to endure anything that could come against them.

Now here we are in May 2013.  Our culture now tells us that we need to remain silent. It has become common place for hundreds of thousands of babies to be murdered each year.  The family unit for the first time is battling to remain the norm.   Culture has overtaken our churches our schools and our lives.  We are in this world but we are not of it.  Many of our own have recanted although they will not admit it and many others have turned away willfully and tragically.

My prayer this National Day of Prayer is not only for our country, which we should never give up on but my prayer is for the Christians that are toeing the line.  It is time to live what we know is right.  It is time to stand strong and say we will not recant.  We will not say that murder, homo-sexuality, liberalism (not just in gov’t), and other sins should be the norm.  We can not be satisfied to just say “these are the signs of the times.”  We know that is true but we must be vigilant and we must stand our ground now more than other.  Not because we hate those who do not belong to Christ, but because we are so freaking passionate about them not going to hell and spending an eternity separated from God.

We pray every night with our kids for our friends and neighbors not because we disagree with them or dislike them.  No, it is LOVE for them that fills our passion.  That is the difference between other religions.  I am not against Muslims, atheists  Jehovah witnesses, or any other religion or line of thinking.  I am for each person coming to know Christ.  I am for each of them because God loves them and sent His only Son to die and pay their penalty for sin.  Sin separates us from God but Jesus bridges the great divide.  God doesn’t want any to perish! (2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  

So let us pray for repentance!  Let us pray for Christians to stand strong! Let us pray for an unwavering faith fueled by God’s love for us and for others!

 

 

Kingdoms

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Shortly after becoming the Director of Worship Arts at Sunnybrook Church one of our associate pastors answered a call to move on to another ministry in a different state.  We celebrated with him that he was answering God’s call in obedience.  Unfortunately that left a hole in our ministry which needed to be filled.  Because of my background in Biblical Counseling I accepted the responsibilities of taking on the counseling ministry along side of my worship ministry.

Over the last few months I have dealt with more people who are in identity crisis.  What I mean by that is that they do not know which Kingdom they belong to.  Simply by coming to church on a Sunday does not mean that you are part of God’s Kingdom.

I see people who are literally battling demonic entities and are scared out of the minds living in one kingdom and then coming to church to find a magic cure for their problems.  This is not Hollywood and there are no special cures, no ceremonies, no activities that can rid a person’s life from the  activities of the kingdom in which they live.

I have been talking in very general terms but here’s the reality.  I get phone calls that would scare  the average person.  I talk with people who have seen members of their family possessed, levitating, etc.  I hear stories of people being bruised by objects flying across the room.  I have heard people describe the terror of living in a home that is “possessed.”   Demonic activity is real.  Demons do exist and they like Satan are out to steal, kill, and destroy.

Believe me, I am not making light of these situations.  I know that these activities are real.  Scripture even tells us that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Ephesians 6:12

You see the truth is that there are two kingdoms.  The Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Satan.  Now let me remind you that one is the CREATOR and one is the created.  When I talk to people that are not part of the Kingdom of God my objective is not to rid their lives of the spirit activity around them.  My goal is to get them to see that there are two kingdoms and God allows things to happen to make them aware of the fact that they are not in the Kingdom that God wants them to be in.

We tend to stroll through life ignoring the fact that we are in a battle!  Christians wake up!!  Put on your armor!!  Remember Ephesians 6 and its instructions.

“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

If you are reading this and are not a Christian do not be mistaken.  This isn’t a battle cry of violence.  It’s a battle cry of righteousness, peace, love, & joy.  It is a reminder that there is a Kingdom of Darkness, and a Kingdom of God.  Pick your side.  But I will let you know the outcome is already won and the battle belongs to the LORD!

 

Thoughts while ironing a shirt

 

This morning I did a funeral.  So last night I had to get my suit out, find a tie, and a dress shirt and iron it.  Now I am no stranger to ironing but maybe I was just tired but the thought came to me “Since I am wearing a jacket I really only need to iron the front.”  So I sprayed my heavy starch and began to iron the front.  As I was ironing the thought came to me that we Christians are just like that.  We clean up the parts of our lives that others are able to see.  We shine up so nice and pretty for church.  Depending on the style of church you go to you may wear your best suit or dress.  Maybe you go to a more casual church.  It makes no difference there is something about our Christian culture that thinks it is wrong for people to see that we have wrinkles and stains in our lives.  We show our very best then come home and take off our coat of piety or dress of pride while all along the real us remains staring back at us in the mirror.  Faults, sins, attitudes, and gods begin to show their head. We all have them.

I am no different.  I struggle, I battle, I hide.  But what if we took the time to iron out those wrinkles and cleaned up the stains of our hearts so we no longer need to hide.  “That’s not possible” you say.  Well I would disagree.  Our spiritual wrinkle releaser or spiritual stain remover is found in 1 John 1:9. Here is what it says   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   That is God’s promise from His Word.  Confession makes it possible to not have anything to hide.  Besides, isn’t it much more comfortable not having to throw on our spiritual layers in order to hide those things we do not want any one else to see.

Your heavenly Father knows you.  He knows your thoughts, your past mistakes, and is ready to forgive you from all your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness.  Notice it doesn’t say some unrighteousness or most unrighteousness.  He can and will forgive you of ALL unrighteousness.    He will make you whiter than snow.  So confess and stop worrying that people might come to see the real you.  We all have wrinkles, we all have stains…but we all have forgiveness just a prayer away.  Stop covering up! Clean up!

Mar 5, 2010 - Life, Life groups, Prayer    1 Comment

Community

Last night I was reminded about the fact that we as the body of Christ are family. We do life together and we are there for each other. Recently one of the volunteers on my team asked for prayer for their spouse who was interviewing for a new job. They brought their needs before God and before the people they do life with here at Fellowship Church.

You might think that it is normal to bring things to God, but what purpose other than praying could there be for sharing our needs with others?  Let me offer this thought. Many times God uses the people around us to answer our prayers. You may need to read the sentence again and let it sink in.

Let’s jump back to my story again for a moment.  Last night as we were beginning our worship team practice one member brought me a check and asked that I give it to that same member of our team who had shared just a couple weeks ago about their needs.  Because the member in need shared their request God used those around her to answer her prayer.

So the next time you are with friends or attending your life group please remember this.  God uses those you do life with to answer prayer and often times to meet your needs.  So get out there and do life together!

It’s Gonna Be Alright

Today has been one of those days for me.  I have been open about my struggles with Panic & Anxiety.  There are a weeks when I could honestly tell you that I am not struggling with it.  But today is not one of those days.  It seems that it hits you out of the blue.  Today it hit me.  So as I wrestle with this real life battle even now as I type I want you to know what I do so that maybe you will take something from my experience.

When I am anxious and the walls seem to be coming in on me, I pray, I read, I listen.  Right now, I am praying and reading about the greatness and powerfulness of God found in Job 26.  He is powerful enough to hold the earth and space, so I know that He can handle my little anxiety and panic attacks.  No matter how huge they are in my own eyes, they are nothing He cannot handle!  He is bigger than my anxiety & panic.  Fill in the blank with this one.  Whatever your battle is at this very moment speak it out loud.  Say “God, You are bigger than________”  Claim that!  Because IT IS TRUE!!  There is nothing that our God cannot handle.  Say it again from the depths of your heart.  “God, You are bigger than  _________”     Speak it and believe it!

I didn’t really plan on blogging any of that.  I simply was going to throw this song up here and hope it encouraged you.  So here it is.  This is a great song of hope.  I believe it is going to be all right!!  Listen and remember God is bigger than ______.

Aug 16, 2009 - Prayer, technical, Worship    1 Comment

Online Worship Experience

It has been a great day. Church, swimming with the family, AFV (America’s Funniest Video), and a refreshing time of worship online tonight with Fred McKinnon. Fred is a gifted worship leader who has recently begun to do live worship from his home. My wife Jennifer went to bed early so I thought I would get on and check it out.

It was amazing and one of the highlights of my day. It refreshed me! I found myself weeping and worshiping God! As a worship leader I get to experience worship a lot. That’s a given. I love worship! It is my passion! I feel most alive when I am on stage worshiping God. But I need to worship on my own. I need to be challenged and encouraged. I needed to be led into worship. I needed refreshed! I needed this!

Don’t let anyone tell you that God doesn’t move through the internet or online ministries. Tonight God used this time in great ways. Thank you Fred! I can’t wait for next week!! If you’re interested go check it out.

Below is an archived video from last Friday morning’s online worship.

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