To Whom It May Concern:

What a beautiful day it is!  I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to rise a little early this morning.  It's impossible to not be blessed by time in His incredible presence.  It seems to intensify for me when I hop aboard the vehicle of anointed praise and worship and trust Him to take me places unreachable without His enabling.  My heart soars higher and higher as His Spirit seems to energize my total existence.  I feel this morning was uniquely special as He spoke something specific to my heart.  As I continued to bask in His presence it became clear that what He spoke to me (as personal as it was) was not just for me.  I am now convinced that what He spoke was for others as well.  I am sure it won't apply to everyone, but...to whom it may concern: 

The tide has ebbed in your life for a season.  However, I am to tell you specifically that the tide has turned.  The tide is now coming in - for you and me.  I remember years back when I used to fish the jetties in Fernandina Beach, FL.  You had to fish the jetties during the last half of the out-going tide and the first half of the in-coming tide.  This was for two reasons.  One reason (a very important reason) is that you would be washed off the jetties by the waves during high tide.  The second reason is that the best fishing was during the in-coming tide.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps I'll research that one day.  Or maybe I'll just wait and ask Jesus when I get to heaven.  He knows everything, you know!  But it's true.  We endured the last half of the out-going tide just so we would be in the proper place when the tide turned and started coming in.  That's when we caught most, if not all the fish!

I am to tell you that your tide has turned.  The tide is no longer ebbing, but it's coming in.  You've wondered what's happened and why it's happened.  But the One who created the oceans, and designed them to rise and fall knows it all.  He knows that your season of the ebbing tide is necessary.  But He's also the owner of time and says it is time for the tide to turn and ebb no longer.  The tide is rising in you your life.  With the incoming tide will come a wisdom that can only be acquired during low tide.  During the low tide in your life your heart has been prepared and enlarged for a love that only the tough times can produce.  With your prepared and enlarged heart people's lives will be impacted and changed in ways and means not possible without the ebbing tide.  You may not even realize it but the season of the low tide has developed a new hunger for God in your heart.

The tide will rise higher and higher in your life.  As a matter of fact, it will rise so high the waves it carries will wash you off of the things that have held you back.  These waves will cleanse you of attitudes and mindsets that you know have hindered your personal walk.  This tide will be so powerful that it will breakthrough the bonds and the strongholds the enemy had placed on you, and remove the roadblocks he had placed in your path.  It will bring an abundance of provision into your life to effectively meet the needs of others.  As you release provision to others...God will heap provision back on you.

I am to tell you that as we near the end of 2015 you are to rejoice. Not over what has happened, but what is about to happen.  I am to tell you that the power of rejoicing will bring the rising tide to pass.  Don't wait!  Rejoice now! Receive the rising tide - and its effects - into your life!

The Deadline

As I make this post it is the day before Christmas Eve.  I guess you could say it is Christmas Eve "Eve"!  It's that time of the year when people are running themselves ragged just to meet a big ole deadline...Christmas Day.  Did I call Christmas Day a deadline?  Actually, for many people that's what it is.  As I peruse the status updates of my many FB friends, you see it.  "I finally got all my Christmas shopping done."  Of course it has to be done by the deadline...Christmas Day (or for some Christmas Eve night).  "Things will be very chaotic at my house because of all the family coming in for Christmas."  How about this one..."I have to clean, clean, and clean before the family arrives!"  Of course, there is nothing morally wrong with all this.  But my question is, for those who are followers of Christ, have we made Christmas (that is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of our Lord) nothing more than a deadline?  Does all the rushing, shopping, cleaning, cooking, traveling, and stressing point us to the birth of the King of Kings?  Does it point our family, friends, and co-workers to Him as well?  Are you even thinking about His extraordinary arrival during all this?  Just asking.

Every year at about this time there arises a debate over whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas because some believe its roots are in pagan rituals of the past.  Of course, any time believers join in the processes of the world (activities that turn us away from the truth of Christ), we no longer can let His light shine through us.  However...if we determine to make Jesus, and the celebration of His arrival, our sole motivation...we will function as vessels of His life, peace, and joy in the midst of it all.  After all, Christ-followers are no longer of this world.  Our lives are engineered (by Him) to be counter-cultural, and to go against the flow of this world.  If we truly are walking with Him, we stick out like a sore thumb anyway.  How much more during this time of commercialism and stress the world offers.  Christmas is about peace and joy, not debt and stress.

Finally, could it be that the Christmas season is so depressing for many folks because they don't see the reality of what it really is?  Could it be that many folks need to see that there are those (especially during this time of the year) who are rooted in the light, peace, and joy that Jesus gives.  You don't change things by throwing out the baby with the bath water.  What we must do is strategically look at the Christmas season as an incredible time to impact the lives of others who need the peace and joy that we already have.  As we truly worship Him in the midst of it all, there will be those who see the light of who He really is.  So drop the deadline by focusing on Who really matters.  Celebrate His arrival.  This is true Christmas!

Perspective

Perspective. What does it mean? The dictionary says perspective is: A mental view or prospect; it is the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship. Perspective is what you see, the way you see it, and how you respond to it. A key word in the definition above is "relevant". Proper perspective is the faculty of being able to identify what is really relevant to the relationship or circumstances. Perspective comes in two forms: proper and improper. A proper perspective sees the truly relevant data and keys on it. Decisions made from a proper perspective essentially are based on truth. Truth meaning - the way things really are or the way things really happen or simply, the true facts. Proper perspective allows one to major on the majors and minor on the minors. Less time and energy are expended responding to data that is inaccurate. On the other hand an improper perspective is just the opposite. An improper perspective lacks the vision to see the truly relevant data. Decisions made from an improper perspective are based on falsehood and improper data. The data gained is gained from a lack of ability to see the "relevant". An improper perspective causes one to major on the minors and overlook on what is really major. Time, energy, and resources are used up in areas that make no impact or are even destructive.

Too often as Christ-followers we operate from an improper perspective. What we see and the way we respond is based on inaccurate data because it is simply not relevant to God's will, plan, and purpose. For example, God says that the relationship between husband and wife should be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and His church. Is that how your marriage is? Jesus said the world will know we are Christians by the love we have for each another. Do you know some Christians that are determined to fight against one another to the death? I can guarantee that the reasons for the fight are totally "irrelevant" to the relationship God wants us to have with one another. Too many times we major on what is really not important. And we vow to hold our ground over things that really have no value to Jesus! What does the world think about this? How do non-believers respond to this? I'm just asking.

Philippians  2: 5-11 describes the attitude (mental view or perspective) of Jesus. One's attitude reveals one's heart. The key to our salvation is the fact that Jesus, as God the Son laid aside all His privileges and became one of us. In humility Jesus saw the relevance of laying aside what was truly important to Him - in order to be The Way for you and me. Paul said, "Have the same attitude that was in Christ in yourselves." There it is. That's the key. We must all learn that nothing can be so important to us that we hold on to it - even while Christ's church is becoming separated. Everything we are willing to lay down (as important as it seems to us) will result in unity in the church at large. That's the perspective that was in Christ. Are you majoring on something that is truly a minor?  Will  what you are holding on to make a difference say in 20 years? Is your "major" so major that it tears down, divides, and separates your family or friends? If we could see it all through the proper perspective, which is Christ's attitude, we would see what is really major. Then we would stop majoring on the minors. Think about it. Pray about it.

Are You Preparing For Rain?

One of my favorite movies of all time is Facing The Giants.  Based on a true story, It's about a small school whose football team miraculously makes it to the state championship game...and wins!  I like this movie for several reasons.  I like football.  I like winning.  I love to see the underdog win!  But I love this movie most of all because of the encouraging messages it proclaims.  The theme of the movie is that God can do the impossible...if we simply trust Him.  It is a movie about faith and the motivation that faith causes.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when an elderly man who has been praying for revival in the school for several years has a brief conversation with the coach.  He shares the story of two farmers who desperately needed rain.  Both farmers were praying for rain.  But one farmer actually went out and prepared his fields to receive the rain.  Needless to say, the rain fell on the one who had actually done the work to prepare his fields for rain.  His true faith was motivating him to prepare.

I was reading in the book of James recently and was blessed by a couple of scriptures that reminded me of this scene.  (James 2:14)  "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?"  (James 2:18)  "But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."  This brief conversation with this elderly prayer warrior sparked a drastic change in the coach's approach to coaching his team.  The result was a miracle season that ended in a state championship title!

Before my early days of radio broadcasting I would dream of being a radio announcer.  I would hang out at the local station and watch the local announcer.  One in particular spent some time with me.  At home I took a yardstick and taped a microphone to it.  Then I balanced it in the middle of my portable stereo record player by placing some heavy books on the end of it.  I would record myself and the music as if I were a radio announcer.  Sounds weird I know, but it led me to being a radio announcer for several years!  I was preparing for rain, and I didn't even know it was faith back then!  I was attaching some works to my faith.

The question I pose to you is - are you preparing for rain?  First, what are you trusting God in prayer for?  Second, what can YOU do to prepare to receive your answer to prayer?  No...you cannot provide the answer.  But you CAN prepare for it!  That is so cool!  We do have a part in it.  And our part must be motivated by our faith.  If we truly believe God will answer the prayer...then we prepare TODAY to receive the answer.  And in most cases the preparation itself strengthens our faith!  So...if you're praying for rain...start preparing for rain!

Born of a Woman, Born of the Holy Spirit, & Born Under the Law

"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law..."  (Galatians 4:4)
In the Bible "the fullness of time" simply means when enough time had gone by.  It is the point at which time itself has fulfilled its God-ordained course.  God's timing is a crucial element in God's will being fulfilled.  We must always be intent on God's timing as much as we are His will!  This is what Paul is telling us in Galatians 4: 4.  The time was right when Jesus, the Messiah was born.  God Himself had preordained this important point in the History of time itself.  

Jesus was born of a woman.  The miracle of the His birth is that this woman was a virgin.  (See Luke Chapter One)  The essence of this miracle birth is the conception itself.  Again, Luke Chapter One tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon young, teenage Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed her.  The child born was Holy because He was and is the Son of God!  Remember...when the power of the Most High overshadows...stuff happens!

Jesus was born under the Law.  He and His family observed every letter of the Law.  "And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'),  and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."  (Luke 2: 22-24)  Jesus was born under the Law in order to fulfill the Law; by satisfying the requirement of the Law - righteousness.

How did Jesus fulfill the Law?  By keeping the Law perfectly.  He carried out every stroke of the Law perfectly and thus fulfilled it's requirement.  Mankind, since the fall of Adam and Eve, simply was not capable of fulfilling the Law.  But Jesus did because He was born of a woman, born of the Holy Spirit, and...born of under the Law!  For 33 and a half years He fulfilled every requirement of the Law so that when He went to the cross He proved to be exactly who John the Baptist said He was, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world"!  Man!!  Is it any wonder we get excited when we delve into the essence of who Jesus is?  He's much more than a cute little baby lying in a feeding trough.  He is Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One!  He has freed us from the curse of the Law (judgment), and fulfilled the Law in us by making us the righteousness of God!  Let Him into your heart NOW.  He's knocking at the door of your heart.

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It's Not What God Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For God!

If you're like me you have needs.  I mean needs you pray about.  Needs you are trusting God for.  I'm sure I'm like you.  You're probably looking to God to break-through in some area or areas of your life.  After all, God encourages us to call on Him for all our needs.  You may be in a season in which it seems like God is a little late!  When and where is that break-through?   We must remember...God owns time.  Therefore He is never late, and He is always in control.

From my own experiences I know that times like these can be trying, frustrating, and sometimes discouraging.  What is the answer?  Actually the answer is right in front of us!  It's not so much what God can do for you.  He's done the work and laid out His promises.  But it's also (more than we know) what we can do for God!  Obviously my point requires an explanation.  

The Bible teaches that in order to get - we must be willing to give.  God is our perfect example.  He gave His only Son Jesus and got you and me!  It cost Him mightily to have you and me!  God is very eager to fulfill His promises to us and in us.  But His promises must be realized as we employ the principles of His kingdom.  The greatest principle of His kingdom is serving.  And God's love is the motivation for serving.  Love motivated Jesus to lay aside His kingly privileges and become a servant.  I have no doubt that God is extremely blessed by those who have received His work.  It was worth it to Him.

Maybe your break-through hasn't arrived yet.  Serve anyway.  Look for ways to impact people as you serve God.  Determine NOT to lay down in discouragement over circumstances.  When you are praying for your break-through, ask God to show you how you can be effective...today!  Remember God is never late and He is in control.  Perhaps the break-through is waiting for you.  God uses folks who care about others and act accordingly.  I'm determined to make a difference anyway I can, with what I have, right where I am!  My circumstances do not require changing for me to do that!  Commit with me right now to serve God by serving others - even though the break-through hasn't arrived.  If you do...you've already broken through!  Remember, it's not so much what God can do for you.  Why?  Because He's already given you the principles to apply.  However...it IS more what you can do for God.  So...what will you do today?

Celebrate Your Failures!

Those of you who may have known me as a younger, inexperienced worshipper may remember the day I made a big "boo boo"...in the middle of the worship.  I was on the grand piano when the train derailed.  I'm not kidding...it all derailed.  I was very inexperienced and nervous too.  The first song on our set list came off without a hitch.  I was feeling pretty good after that.  So with boldness, confidence, and too much focus on my part I barreled into the next song.  Then about 30 seconds into it, the worship leader up front had to stop it all.  It had already gone over the cliff anyway.  You see, what happened was, I started on the 3rd song when the rest of the musicians and singers started in on the 2nd song...just like they were supposed to.  The worship leader simply said something like, "Let's start this train over!"  Was I embarrassed?  Well...I was a couple of heart-beats away from crawling up under the grand piano.  Yes...I qualified for full-blown, humiliating embarrassment...and rightfully so.  We managed to pull everything together for a good, anointed time of Praise and Worship.  I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for His willingness to anoint and use what otherwise would have been not so useful.  He has a way of changing things!

After the service someone came up to me to console me about my totally un-cover-up-able blunder on the piano.  I don't even remember who it was.  I clearly remember what he said to me though.  He said, "Don't worry.  It was only us.  And besides, that is one less mistake you'll have to make."  That really stuck with me.  What I heard was, "If you can learn from this mistake...you'll never have to make that one again!"  That's how it sounded to me after the words left his lips, traveled through the air, and were filtered through the Holy Spirit filter in me.  I took his words to heart and I still believe they came from the Holy Spirit.

Question:  Have you ever failed?  Have you ever made a mistake?  Today?  Yesterday?  Years ago?  Don't let those mistakes haunt you today.  Make a decision to learn from those mistakes.  I'm convinced we don't make all our mistakes because we are imperfect.  God engineered life so that many of our mistakes can be opportunities to learn how to do it right.  Failures can be impressionable object lessons to teach us how to do things correctly and in line with His will.  Some people are still reeling today over mistakes made years ago.  Stop it!  Remember...failing does NOT make you a failure.  But failing can make you successful.  Again, learn from your mistakes!  Too much time and energy is spent on reeling from our mistakes.  With this in mind I hope you can see how we can actually celebrate our failures.  I mean truly, we can lay down, mope, and drop out of the race when we fail.  But the God-thing to do is to examine the failure, learn from it, apply what you learn, and go forward.  Watch yourself be successful!  Celebrate your failures...because of what can come out of them.

I'm A Sucker For Christmas Movies

I love Christmas movies.  Now I'm not a follower of old St. Nick, but I do love a good fictitious story, with a little romance, and a happy ending.  I think it's inherent in all of us to enjoy a good, happy ending.  You know...boy gets girl...girl gets boy...it snows in Southern Cal the last 15 seconds of the movie.  Even though 9 out of 10 Christmas movies are predictable and the story-lines are almost identical, I still love them.  I love the sounds of jingle bells and little hometowns all decked out in Christmas decorations.  I love movies about saving Christmas, getting second chances, angels, and sharing hot chocolate in a cozy little hometown cafe.  I especially love Christian Christmas movies!  Connie and I just watched one.  The story was not too bad.  It was a story about an attack on a Christian Christmas tradition in a small Alaskan town.  Good story with a happy ending!

And then there are those Christmas movies that premiered last year, and the year before that, and the year before.  No problem. Another year has passed so why not watch them again?  They seem fresh and new all over again.  It's like a snowball.  Each year the wealth of Christmas movies gets even larger!  Tonight I think we'll turn from DVR to DVD.  Will it be "White Christmas"?  Or perhaps "It's A Wonderful Life".  Now there's a real classic.  It gets pretty rough for George Bailey for a while.  But his experience with an angel awakens him as to how blessed he really is to have a wonderful family and friends.  Now there's a good ending.  A dude who's bored and dissatisfied with his life.  He even tries to end it.  He awakens to the fact that he's about the most blessed man on the planet!  Good movie.  It's time to watch that one.  In fact, I'm sometimes tempted to watch that one in the middle of the summer.  After all... it IS a wonderful life!

Enjoy the Christmas movies.  Many of them take the pressure off the hustle and bustle of the commercial Christmas season.  And most of them have great lessons in them about what's really important in life.  Well...that's about it.  That's right, that's right.  Attaboy Clarence!  God bless us everyone and to everyone a good night!

God & Man - A Miracle Birth

I love this time of year when we celebrate Jesus' birth.  Even though the exact month and date of His birth is unknown, it is still a very special time of the year because most of the world (even other religions) at least acknowledge His coming.  But of course, to followers of Christ, one of the greatest attributes of His coming is the miracle of His birth!  I want to encourage you to focus on that more this year.  Because if you do, the significance of His coming and His sacrifice will mean more to you.

The Book of Hebrews is full of powerful encouragement to remain true to our calling.  But Hebrews also explains to us why Jesus' birth was miraculous.  In Chapter One the writer calls Jesus the "Firstborn".  Jesus was the First One, to be born of the Holy Spirit on the earth.  (See Luke Ch. 1)  Hebrews 2: 14 says, "Therefore, since the children (mankind) share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same..."  (Hebrews 2: 17), "Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of the people."  Jesus was God, the Son, but in order to be touched by our humanity, He had to become one of us.  In  order for Him to be an effective high priest...He had to "be made like us".  For this to happen...He had to be born of a woman.

So how could Jesus be born of a woman and still be God?  The answer lies in the Chapter One of Luke where the angel Gabriel explains how Jesus would be conceived of the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary.  (See Abstinence and the Supernatural.)  In Isaiah 7:14 this is prophesied many years earlier, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us)."  When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the news, Mary reminds Gabriel that she was a virgin and wanted an explanation.  Gabriel said the the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of the Most High would overshadow her.  And for that reason, the Holy Child would be called the Son of God.  Amazing!  Jesus' father could not be of the earth, because all flesh had been tainted since the fall of Adam and Eve in the beginning.  The truth is, Jesus was born of a woman and He was born of the Holy Spirit.  That's why Hebrews calls Him the "Firstborn among many brothers."

Jesus came to be the sacrifice for our sins.  However, the sacrifice had to be sinless...without spot, blemish, or sin.  No animal or human being could come close to qualifying.  But...if our sinless God became one of us He could!  Listen to the words of Hebrews 4:14 - 15,  "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Jesus, our High Priest can sympathize with us because He became one of us.  This year as we celebrate His birth and His coming to the earth, let's focus a little more on the miracle of His birth.  No other religion came lay claim to the truth that their god was born of man and god.  Only those who follow after Jesus Christ can do so!  What a substantial, faith-building miracle!  The miracle of His birth!

Abstinence and the Supernatural

I have about a 40 minute commute to work each day so I love to pray during that time.  Yesterday as I was praying during my commute, the Holy Spirit began speaking some really cool stuff to me.  It had to do with the birth of Jesus and how supernatural it was.  Lately I've been pondering the coming of Jesus and how He became one of us to save us.

I began to ponder Luke Chapter 1 when Gabriel, the messenger of God appears to Mary with an astonishing announcement.  "And coming in, he said to her, 'Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you'.  But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.  The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus."  I'm not sure about you, but if I were a young teenage woman and an angel appeared to me with this news I would be a little taken back!  Listen to how she responds.  "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"  (Luke 1: 34).  Here's the key.  Mary was not questioning the validity of Gabriel's message.  Her question had nothing to do with unbelief.  Mary, a virgin, was honestly asking how it would be accomplished through abstinence.  Something unique and out of the ordinary, something supernatural would have to take place and she honestly wanted to know what it was!  Obviously Gabriel considered her question legitimate.  Listen to his answer.  "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God."  (Luke 1: 35)

Earlier in the book of Luke there is a similar incident in that the angel of the Lord appears to Zacharias and announces the birth of John the Baptist.  Zacharias questioned the angel.  "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."  (Luke 1: 18)  This seems like a perfectly legitimate question, but Zacharias lost his ability to speak (until the child was born) because he doubted the message from God.  In this case Zacharias had been praying for a child...even though he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years.  (See Luke 1: 13)  When the message came...he doubted it.

In Mary's case it is clear she had no problem with unbelief.  After receiving the explanation of how she as a virgin would give birth to the Savior, here's what she said.  "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."  (Luke 1: 38)  In other words, when Mary heard the explanation, she received the message which was the Word of God!

As you probably know, the Word of God is seed.  We can read it and study it.  But we must receive it through faith into our spirit.  This causes the seed of the Word to sprout and bear fruit in our lives.  The Word mixed with faith causes fruit to be born.  In Mary's case she, as a servant of God, received the message which was God's Word.  As a result, the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of God, the Most High overshadowed her.  Nothing freakish happened.  She was supernaturally touched by the presence and power of God!  What a miracle!  What a supernatural occurrence...and it was through abstinence!  The Child that was born was the Son of God!  (In my next post I will talk more about how this Child, who was born of a woman was also born of God.)