Jul 31, 2013 - Holiness, Life    No Comments

Embrace

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When we hear the word “embrace” it invokes feelings of love, tenderness, & intimacy. It reminds us of snuggling with our kids or hugging a loved one or close friend.  The things we embrace tell a lot about who we are. We elevate those that we embrace.  They are important to us!  They are the ones we love.  They are those that are most important to us and we communicate our affection for them by our embrace.

As heart warming as an embrace is, God issues a warning about those things or even those people we embrace.  In Ezekial 14:3 God sends a message to Ezekial about the leaders around him.  It says “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin…” 

As I read that verse this morning it jumped out at me.  Maybe I am not actively sinning at the moment but what are things that I am embracing that will cause me to fall into sin.  For some it could be money.  For others it might be embracing people that will lead to worldly success.  *(Please note that success in itself is not  worldly) For others it could be alcohol.  For some of  you it might be the friends you are embracing that will eventually cause you to fall into sin.  That’s why Proverbs is so full of instruction and warning about the company we keep.

What I want you to understand is this.  Even things that may neutral or non-sins can lead to destruction if they are embraced.  So why embrace them?  Why get as close to them as possible?  Scripture tells us to do what with sin?  Get as close as we can?  NO! It says run from evil.  Abhor what is evil.  If you were to look up the word “abhor” in webster’s dictionary it would give you these descriptive words ;”to hate, abominate, despise, detest, execrate, loathe”.  As Christians we do not try to walk the line, we run from and get as far away from sin as possible.  So if something is a grey issue is it okay to embrace?  Well, from my study of scripture I would say no even if for no other reason than it might offend a brother.  You cannot pursue both holiness and nominalness. I know its not a word but I think it should be.  I would define it as the act of pursuing nominal living or walking the line.

Forgive me  if I have been ranting.  My purpose is never to spew opinions but to disperse truth and encourage biblical living.  If we are called to be a set apart people of God and called to holiness we must be careful what we embrace.  The things we embrace say a lot about us.  What are you embracing?  Are they drawing you closer to Christ or is it possible that they could lead you to fall into sin?  Embrace the things of God. I want to challenge you with I Thessalonians 5:21 .  It says “test everything and hold fast to what is good.” Embrace by all means! But be careful what you embrace.

Jul 30, 2013 - Life, The Bible    No Comments

All or nothing

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A few days ago in my daily devotions I read Jeremiah 36:20-26 .  When I read it I saw an incredible parallel to today’s culture.  In this passage King Jehoiakim asks his servants to read the scriptures to him.  After each section that was read the king took a knife and cut out sections to burn in the fire.  Eventually the entire scroll was burned up.  You see as scripture was being read to him, the king took offense and it’s message and burned it because he didn’t fear the message or the God of the message.

Today many people also selectively edit scripture.  They accept the parts that they agree with but they cut our the parts that might offend them.  In our culture the parts being cut include the doctrines of hell, God’s view of sexuality, and morality.  Anything that could cause offense is cut out.  Why?  Because ultimately when controlled by our sin nature we want to be god.  We want to make the rules and say what is right and what is wrong.  We selectively edit out the Bible.  Maybe for some of us it isn’t the “biggies”.  For me, I know that I sometimes take grace out and enforce law.  It’s something that I am working on for sure.  For others they may cut out passages that say we must obey and submit to government.  Whatever it is, we must remember at all cost that scripture does divide if not submitted to.  Obedience always brings blessing and disobedience always brings consequences in the end.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot selectively edit the Bible to suit our fancy. Remember what 2 Timothy 3:16 says. “All scripture is inspired by God.”  I had a professor in Bible college that used to define the word “all” as – “All means all and that’s all means”.  All of scripture is God breathed and is the very word of God.  We cannot elevate preference over truth…ever!

NWLC 13 Update

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I am writing from my hotel room in Kansas City as I have just sat down to begin to decompress and filter through all of the things that I have observed and experienced today.  I am no stranger to this conference.  I have attended all but one conference since it started.

Each year there are always times of incredible worship, however tonight I experienced something that I don’t know if I have ever experienced.  On stage was Big Daddy Weave and frontman Mike Weaver began to share from his own struggles.  There is something so inviting about honesty when someone well known sheds their mask and begins to talk about their own painful experiences.

As Mike talked to the audience about our identity in Christ he made a statement that I have heard before but on this night it hit home.  He said “the person I was was is not the person I am now.”  He went on to say how he has struggled for years with his own identity and fears.  Fears of not measuring up, doubts of his own self worth.  He stated that he always knew Jesus loved him but that he always struggled to love himself. My eyes filled with tears as my heart cried out to God.  He went on to sing their hit song “Redeemed”  Here are the Lyrics.

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

The Holy Spirit used Mike & the band along with these lyrics to create a moment I will never forget as long as I live.  We all prayed and were dismissed but hundreds of people stuck around and continued to pray.  The keyboard player came back out on stage 20 minutes after it ended and began to play Revelation song and a bunch of tired and weary ministry guys with identity issues sang “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.”

No one wanted to leave.  People were crying. People were kneeling at the alter.  People were looking around for others to pray for and minister to .  I wanted to stay praying & worshipping; I didn’t want to leave.

You see, those lyrics are my story.  Lately in my own life I have struggled with the ghosts of my past. Maybe this is your story too.  Do you know what releases chains?  Do you know what sets the prisoner free?  It is worship.  It is surrender.  It is receiving what has already been done for us and allowing our identity to be Christ.

Can you imagine if when we worshipped at Church chains were falling off and people were being set free?  They would never want to leave the presence of Holy God and would long to stay and worship.  That is how I felt tonight.  It’s late but I just had to share what God is up to with me and many others at #NWLC13

If you are on Twitter you can keep up on all the tweets and quotes by searching #nwlc13

Perspective is Everything

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A huge part of my ministry for the past few years has been Biblical Counseling.  Through my own life’s circumstances God has given me a unique gift and desire to want to instill biblical thinking and biblical living into people’s lives.  For the most part if we would submit to godly living a vast majority of our issues would disappear.   Now I am not of the school of counseling that believes every single issue can be fixed by refusing to sin and practicing biblical disciplines,  but I would say that the majority of issues could be set right if we lived by the instructions given to us in scripture.

This morning as I was reading Philippians 3 it was a good reminder to me that righteousness does not come from me or anything that I could ever do.  My heart’s fire was stoked to know Him and the power of His resurrection. And I was reminded that I am not a citizen of this world for my citizenship is in heaven.

Oh dear people of God, I can not implore you enough to be in God’s Word.  It is too easy to get depressed when we, like Peter look at the troubles around us.  We see the waves of culture and society slapping against the boat.  We hear the winds of mediocrity and lukewarm commitment blowing our sails to and fro.  We panic looking at the waters which will surely engulf us and take us under.  The master calls us out of the boat and we begin to walk through everything that shouts to us that we will not make it.  We do not see the Savior in the storm and the peace within the chaos.

When I get into scripture in the mornings I hear “peace be still”.  The winds may not cease to blow, the waves may not cease to crash upon me, but the perspective and peace of Jesus comes over me as if they had.  I am reminded this morning to “reach forward to those things which are ahead”.  I am encouraged to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Your life may feel like it is out of control. Maybe you’re in a dead end job.  Maybe your spouse doesn’t get the whole “Jesus thing”.  Maybe you have been given a bad health report and the winds are blowing.  Le me encourage you dear friends to seek the Savior in His Word.  He has a message for you today.  God wants to speak to you today but you must be willing to hear.

Reading God’s Word will not fix all of your problems but it will fix your perspective!

May 26, 2013 - Family, Life, relationships    No Comments

He Delights in YOU!

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One of the greatest blessings of my life is that of being a Father to our three children.  I never knew how much joy children bring their parents until I was actually a parent.  I never knew how proud you could feel about someone until I had children of my own that I feel such a sense of pride about.

Mason is our oldest and he recently turned eight years old.  The Lord has blessed and gifted Mason with so many gifts both spiritually and physically.  M. is a very gifted athlete.  Any sport he tries he automatically succeeds at.  He is also gifted musically.  He loves to sing!  Last Christmas he sang on stage with me at Sunnybrook as he sang “Away in a manger”.  The boy has nerves of steal and he did such a great job.  M. comes with me every sunday morning around 6:30am to church and helps set up the children’s area and the gym.  It’s not anything I ever asked him to do.  He simply loves serving others.  I am so proud of him for the young man  he is becoming.

Hudson is our five year old who just had a birthday this past week.  He loves dirt.  What can I say?  He loves trucks, mighty machines, diggers, dozers, and construction machines.  He also is playing tee ball and although I was unsure if he would like it, he has done a great job and really is having a lot of fun.  A bonus to a five year old playing tee ball is that when he’s not batting he still gets to play in the dirt so he’s still happy.  Every time he’s up to bat he says “Ready”  I say “Yep, ready”.  Then he responds “say, ‘ready, set, go’ “.  So I say “ready, set, go!” and he swings, hits the ball, and runs down to first base.  Every time it makes me laugh as I delight in my son and the joy he brings me.

Addison is our 20 month old baby girl.  A special gift and a breath of fresh air in a sometimes chaos filled home.  Her sweet smile, her infectious laugh, and the sweet sound of her voice as she constantly tries to say things she doesn’t know how to say quite yet.  I love her so much!!  She is the apple of her daddy’s eye!

Being a father, I have come to understand God’s love for me a little bit more.  When I read scripture that talks about God delighting in His children I get it a little bit more.  I feel those same feelings of pride, joy, love!  I would do anything for my kids!  They’re worth to their daddy is immeasurable. The same is true about us in our relationship with our heavenly father.

Psalms 37:23-24  Says “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall,  for the LORD holds them by the hand”

Think of those most love you have ever felt for your child or the proudest moment you have ever had.  That is how your heavenly Father feels about you today in this moment.  He absolutely DELIGHTS in YOU!!

May 15, 2013 - Life, Prophecy    No Comments

The second coming of Christ

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I love theology.  I love listening to sound doctrinal preaching and I do so every day.  One of my favorite pastors I listen to is Dr. David Jeremiah.  For the past few weeks he has been teaching about Biblical prophecy when it comes to the end times.  For those of you who do not know Christ, it should scare you. But for those who know Christ there is a comfort in the fact that Jesus will carry His church away at the second coming.

So why is it important to study prophecy and the 2nd coming?  

1.  The Bible is 1/5th prophecy.

2.  If you take that 1/5th, 1/3rd of that is about the second coming of Jesus Christ.

3.  There are 660 prophecies in the Bible.  333 are about Jesus.  Of these 333 prophecies 109 of those were fulfilled at his first coming.  An astounding 224 are yet to be fulfilled at His second coming.

4. To put it another way: There are 7,959 verses in the Bible.  330 are about His second coming.  This means that 1 out of every 25 verses talks about the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.

5.  For every one time Jesus’ first coming is mentioned…His second coming is mentioned eight times.

6.  For every time the atonement is mentioned in the Bible, the second coming is mentioned twice.

7. Over 50 times in the New Testament we are told to be ready for the return of Christ.

8. If you are a Christian you would be foolish NOT to study the second coming of Christ.

 

When you begin to read and study Daniel, Revelation, and end times do not panic.  Jesus has a message for you that brings hope and peace which is found in John 14:1-3

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Don’t be troubled.  He was written eternity on your heart.

 

 

 

 

May 14, 2013 - Life, The Bible    No Comments

John 14 Take aways

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This morning I was reading through John 14 and wrote in the margin of my Bible several take-aways.  John 14 is all about abiding in Christ.  Most of you have probably read it or heard it referred to. It is the infamous passage about Jesus being the true vine, His Father being the vinedresser who does the pruning, and Christians being the branches.

So here are some take-aways to think about.

1.  Pruning doesn’t take place on just those who are not bearing fruit.

  • “every branch that bears fruit He prunes” vs 2

2.  The purpose of pruning is to bear more fruit

  • “He prunes that it may bear more fruit” – vs. 2

3.  The best way to glorify God is to bear fruit

  • “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear fruit” – vs. 7

4.  If you are abiding in Christ, His Words are abiding in You – vs. 9

  • “You abide in Me and My Words abide in You…”

5.  The source of Joy comes from Abiding in Christ

  • “This things I have spoken to you, that MY JOY may remain in you, and that your joy may be full!” – vs. 11

 

The Word “Abide” means to live or dwell in a place.  It carries with it the thought of remaining in a place and living there.  My challenge is this.  Are you living in Christ?  Am I?  Are His Words in us?  When we are angry what comes out?  We all get frustrated, we all get discouraged, we all get to the point we want to get away from reality some times.  But what keeps us grounded?  I believe it is the fact that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  The best way for me to glorify Him is by remaining in Him and bearing fruit.  Want to know what that fruit is?  Check out Galatians 5:22-23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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