"Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down"

This morning, like many others, I rose to worship my God in the freshness of a new day.  Nothing compares to greeting the day in the presence of the God who designed and created me to worship Him.  It simply sets me on a course that is more aligned with His will for me.  My, O my is it good!

I regularly use the medium of music as the vehicle to ascend to the heights of His presence.  This morning was no exception.  I often use a very popular internet radio service loaded with anointed music that draws me into His presence.  (Anointed simply means the touch of His Spirit is all over it.  And anything anointed with His Spirit will draw one closer to Him.)

Now this may sound a little weird but I like the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" button appearing with every song being played.  If you don't like a particular song simply click on the "thumbs down" button and it won't be played again.  If you really like another song you can click on the "thumbs up" button and it will be added to your play list.  Pretty convenient huh?  Now why would that even matter to me?  I am glad you asked!

This comes from the heart of one who was dedicated to glorifying Satan and self when God rushed in to salvage my life back a few years ago.  I had been involved in worldly music most of my life in many shapes, forms, and fashions.  I was pretty much born a musician.  Music was a form of entertainment or a way to fame and fortune.  Bottom line:  music was all about me and what I could accomplish.  It was about competition and the race to produce the latest and the most innovative (just to sign my life away one day).  When my life was initially overwhelmed with the love and Spirit of Christ I discovered the real purpose of music.  Music was designed and engineered by God, the creator, to worship not self...but Him.  Music is the most powerful medium in the created universe to make any kind of proclamation...Godly or ungodly.  Music effects the emotions and to a degree even controls the emotions.  Is it any wonder Satan (heaven's former worship leader) pulls out all the stops to distort and pervert music.  He can speak and even control through the medium of music.  Even that which is labeled "Christian" he never ceases to attempt to taint with "worldly" desires.  However when we get a clue what music is really about...the style, genre, key, tempo, instrumentation, etc won't matter.  I can worship God on a kazoo.  (Just don't ask me to.)

That's why I like the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" button on the internet praise and worship station...because some of what they play is not anointed.  It's just Christian (labeled) music.  It does nothing to move me deeper into His glory.  That's when I hit the "thumbs down" button.  Maybe it should really be the "anointed" or the "not anointed" button.  The music I employ to ascend to the heights must be anointed by Him!  Christian music won't do at all.  I can hear plenty of that on the contemporary Christian radio stations.  However, it must be anointed music!  When we learn the difference we won't settle for anything less...or "thumbs down".

Growing Oldler...but not Old!

I recently celebrated a birthday.  It's amazing how quickly they seem to add up the older I get.  Does that happen to you?  Just wondering.  For all of us we can't wait for our birthday to come when we are younger.  You know, that 12th, that 16th, 18th, and then that 21st birthday.  But something seems to change at the 30th, then the 40th, and of course.....the 50th.  (If you're wondering about me, I've surpassed them all.)  The older we get we tend to begin to apply the brakes to our enthusiasm about our next birthday.  But then after the 50th...who cares!

One fact never changes:  We are all growing older.  If you really think about it, you are older today than you were yesterday.  You younger whippersnappers may make fun of us older folk today, but you've aged since last night!  You're growing older...and you can't change that!!  (Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.)  The truth is we are all growing older.  But...we don't have to grow old.  I will make a marked distinction between growing older and growing old.  Growing older is something that happens biologically. On the other hand growing old is a mindset.  Growing older cannot be stopped (even if you fight it every step of the way ladies).  But growing old can easily be checked.  How?  By the way you think.

I am reminded of an older home that has been restored through the years.  It can have all the modern amenities of a brand new home.  It can be an older home but not old.  Then there's the house that's been neglected and eventually abandoned through the years.  It  begins to deteriorate and eventually becomes a pitiful sight, uninhabitable.  We can be like that "old" house when we don't allow our minds to be renewed by God's Word.  But God has given us His living and active Word to renovate our minds so that we think like Him.  God is older than you and me...but He is not old!

Don't spend a lot of time with folks who think and act old. Connie and I have friends older than us, but we love to hang around them because they think young.  Thinking young allows one to be crazy, pliable, and to enjoy life.  Thinking young also affects your health in a positive way.  Psalm 103: 5 says that He "...satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle."  This verse is part of my daily prayer and has been for many, many years.  Walking with Him puts me in position to receive the "good things" that renew my youth (mindset)...even when I am older.  Draw on your relationship with Him, and receive the "good things" that satisfy your years and renew your youth like the eagle.  So go ahead and confidently grow older...just don't grow old.

How Am I Blessed? Let Me Count the Ways

If I were to ask you what the greatest blessings in your life were...would would you say?  Would you need some time to think about it?  Or not?  I've been thinking about that question lately since I've already asked myself!  Answers immediately came gushing out of my mind!  Let me name just a few:  Of course, giving my life to Jesus and having a wonderful relationship with Him is on top.  Marrying the woman of my dreams is right up there.  Having 4 incredible children and now 7 incredible grandchildren establish the fact that I'm the most blessed man in the world!  I could go on and on.  Sometimes I have to stop and ponder all the ways and means God has abundantly blessed my life.  He is truly a good and faithful God.  His ways are not always my ways.  And His ways are definitely NOT the world's ways.

The world measures success and "blessedness" by what you accomplish on your own and by how much you have.  If by yourself you achieve greatness you are successful according to the world.  If you have a lot of stuff and it is the latest...you are blessed.  The world has man looking for "blessedness" in all the wrong places.  The world's blessings are temporary and are left behind when we leave this life.

How do we acquire the proper perspective on being truly blessed?  It comes out of a healthy, growing relationship with Jesus.  To have prayed the "sinner's" prayer is not enough.  However, to walk with Him 24 X 7 is!  To follow after Him on a daily basis is more than enough.  I don't know about you, but even in my walk with Jesus there are times I can get worldly.  My priorities need to be examined and checked during those times.  These are times when my eyes are attracted by the things and people of the world.  I begin to compare...and that's when trouble starts!  But walking closely to Jesus allows Him to live through you and me.  Yes, He may live "in" you, but are you allowing Him to live "through" you?  That's His objective and should be ours as well.  When we are allowing Jesus to live "through" us we become His hands and feet right here in our realm on the earth.

And finally, when He lives through you and me, not only are we His hands and His feet, but we are His eyes and ears.  We see what He sees and hear what He hears.  Believe me, Jesus knows exactly how incredibly blessed you are!  How?  Aside from being the One who blessed...He sees His own results in you!  I encourage you to stop for just awhile and ponder the blessings in your life that are yours as a result of knowing Him.  It won't take you long fo realize just how truly blessed you are.  What about it?

The Realm Beyond

Have you noticed there always seems to be some sort of a fascination with the supernatural among we humans?  You know, close encounters, ET, horror flicks, and lately...vampires.  That's right, vampires that fall in love with humans.  That's really not new though.  I remember back, way back when Barnabas Collins was in love with a human girl!  There seems to be built within us an attraction to the supernatural.  A curiosity (if you will) with the realm beyond ours.

The truth is...it's been that way since the creation of man.  There is a supernatural element to all of us.  When God created man He breathed the breath of life (Spirit) into what was then...simply a clump of dirt!  (See Genesis 2: 7)  As a result, man became a "living" being.  This breath of life which He breathed into man became his spirit.  So when God created man he was actually born of the Spirit (which is God's breath).  Because of the way God created mankind, there will always be a drawing toward the spiritual or the supernatural.  When God first created Adam and Eve, there was within them a drawing toward God their Creator alone.

The Bible tells us in Genesis Chapter 3 that Adam and Eve were deceived and listened to the voice of the serpent who came to dispute all God had told them.  They disobeyed God and the spirit part of them was disconnected from God.  This was a very serious problem because it was through the spirit realm (the supernatural realm) mankind was connected to God.  Instead of being drawn to God, mankind now had to deal with a void that produced a drawing toward anything supernatural.  This includes the dark side.  When Jesus came 2000 years ago He also recreated or renewed our spirits in such away that we reconnect supernaturally with God.  This happens when we earnestly invite Jesus into our hearts...to live in and through us...forever.

Today's infatuation with the dark side of the supernatural is no surprise among those who don't know Christ.  But they can just as easily be drawn to the light supernaturally by the Holy Spirit.   Satan and his forces compete for the souls of man by offering a taste of the supernatural.  What Satan offers is a lie leading to eternal death or better put...eternal disconnection from God.  But Jesus offers the truth leading to an eternity with the living God!

From walking with God for a number of years I have seen many supernatural occurrences.  From the salvation of souls, to the healing of bodies, to the casting out of demons, to supernatural provision, to supernatural protection, to the gifts of His Spirit.  Our God is supernatural.  I say it's time that we become infatuated with the God of all creation.  He is truly supernatural!  No one is like Him.  Focus the eyes of your heart on Him alone...and allow Him to the God the Bible promises Him to be!

Drawing Near Has Its Costs

What an incredible day!  I rose early this morning to spend time in the presence of the King of Kings.  I can truthfully say one cannot avoid being changed in His presence.  There is something wonderfully supernatural about waiting before the Lord of Lords.  This morning was no exception.  I emerged from my time with Him full of joy, peace, and a better perspective of who He is in me.

I must say though, drawing near to Him has its costs.  I am not talking about a one-time occurrence.  I'm referring to the desperately, hungry heart that yearns to draw closer to Him.  We all come to points in our lives in which we cannot deny the truth - we need to be closer to Him.  Many of those times are initiated by Him and it is our prerogative to respond.  Other times we feel the void of the intimacy we were designed to experience with Him.  Whatever the case, we realize we need Him more...and that we need more of Him!  If we long for Him enough...we will do what we must do to find more of Him.

James explains the cost in Chapter 4 and verse 8.  "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."  First of all, God gives us a promise through James.  The promise:  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you and me.  This promise is eternal which means it will never be revoked.  But like all of God's promises there are conditions, or as I said...costs.  Here James tells us that in order to draw near to God (and for Him to draw near to us), we must do two things:  Cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.  There must be a change of behavior, born from a heart longing to be purified.  James goes on to say, "Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom."  (Verse 9)  The realization of our need for Him should bring us to weeping and a forsaking of the joys of this world in order to gain the eternal joy that intimacy with Him produces. This is truly life-changing.

Do you long to be closer to God?  Do you desire a deeper intimacy with Him?  Do you feel the void of intimacy with Him?  If so, do as James instructs all of us.  Cleanse you hands and purify your heart as you draw into His presence.  According to James, as you draw closer to Him, He will draw closer to you.  The truth is (I know I say that a lot), the cost is worth the joy, peace, and intimacy one gains from drawing near to Him.  

I Smell Orange Blossoms!

One of the joys of living in Central Florida a few years back was the smell of orange blossoms in the Springtime.  It's hard to describe how pleasant the aroma was.  Every year at about the same time the air would be infused with the smell of the blossoms.  It just made you feel good.  It was borderline addictive!  One thing was for sure; you knew the next crop of oranges was on the way when you smelled the blossoms.

When we first moved to Central Florida Connie, the kids, and I were amazed that we had orange trees - with oranges on them - right in our yard!  It was November when we moved there but the trees still had plenty of oranges on them.  It was such a novelty to walk out into the back yard and pluck a juicy orange from the tree.  Up until then, the only oranges we had ever experienced came from the produce department at the supermarket.  I have to be honest with you though.  Before I saw an orange actually on the tree, I didn't know an orange tree from an apple tree.  After picking several oranges I learned how to recognize an orange tree even without its fruit on it.  It's fruit indicated exactly what kind of a tree it was.

According to Jesus, it is the same way with those who follow Him.  He says in Luke 6: 44, "For each tree is known by its own fruit.  For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush."  In Florida I did not expect to find a bananas on orange trees.  Only oranges!  Jesus said, "Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance..." (Matt. 3: 8)  Those who are followers of Jesus bear fruit that indicates exactly who they are.  The fruit being born by Christians should present indisputable evidence that they love and follow after Christ, that their lives are being changed by Him, and that they no longer live for the world, but for Him.  The fruit provides the evidence for others.  The fruit provides the proof.  No matter how one talks, the fruit reveals the truth.

So what kind of fruit are you bearing?  Does it indicate that you have given your life to the Savior of the world?  Does the fruit you are bearing draw others closer to Jesus, because they see the indisputable evidence of the miracle He has done in your life?  Just asking, because I ask myself these questions (and more) every day.  Make a commitment to Him today to nurture your relationship in such a way that life-changing fruit (for you and others) will be born in your life.  I'm in!

I Notice Things

I happen to be one of those guys who notices things.  Sometimes I really can't help it.  I just seem to make observations.  I really like that.  The weird thing is that I am not really a "detail" person.  I just notice things.  Occasionally I'll ask Connie, "Have you ever noticed that person's accent?"  Or, "Did you notice the way they didn't pronounce the "g" at the end of a word ending in "ing?"  It's really not criticizing.  It's just noticing things!  When I was a kid my friends and I were at a Saturday afternoon matinee.  I noticed a jet vapor trail in the sky as two cowboys were riding the range.  Yep...it was a western!  I couldn't help it.

Well...I've noticed that when someone really believes in something, they not only talk about it, but they live proportionally to the degree they believe!  I just notice that.  Their actions are the indisputable evidence of what they believe!  "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)  Let's understand that this very popular scripture not only means believing for things you don't have, but acting as if you had them.  In addition it clearly means living for the One we can't see, out of a conviction that He is more real than peanut butter with ice cream!  When we live what we believe...people notice.

James talks about faith.  Not man-made, common faith.  But a supernatural faith that motivates a person to serve others and do incredible things for God.  He says, "You can show me your faith by talking about it til the cows come home.  But...I will show you my genuine faith - by what I DO".  (Steve's paraphrase.  Love me through it!)

The calling on your life and my life is to walk by faith in God and His Word.  God is so ingenious.  You see, as we walk by faith, we walk according to what and Who we believe in.  It is a witness much greater than lip service.  Our actions and our lifestyles scream of the reality of the God who saves.  The evidence of what we believe is lived out!  How incredible is that witness!  People are drawn to the genuineness of Jesus in us.  Let's make sure we are living what we believe and not just talking about it.  What do you think?

My Top 5 Posts of 2010

As we move in to 2011 I am so excited about the great things this year will bring.  There is a freshness about this time of year that allows one a point in which to focus on new ideas, methods, and vision.  2010 was a great year.  I have listed 5 of what I would consider by best posts of 2010.  Take a look and be blessed!  Happy New Year!

5.  What I Can Learn From Burgers, Coffee, And Chicken  Reaching out.

4.  Too Far Removed  The earthquake in Haiti.

3.  Let's Give Thursday Some Credit  A short post about Thursday!

2.  A Wonderful Dad  My tribute to Dad.

1.  To Whom It May Concern  A Look Ahead To 2011.

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog!  And thanks for all the encouraging words and comments.  It's such a blessing to know people are being impacted!  Again, God bless...and Happy New Year!