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, 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. 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? 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!  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'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. 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" the middle of the worship.  I was on the grand piano when the train derailed.  I'm not 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'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 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.)

I Can!

"I Can!".  That's a very short, little sentence.  But it is very powerful.  I can!  I wonder how many people heard something different as they were growing up?  Something like "You can't!".  You may be surprised at the number of people who heard "You can't!" more than they heard "You can!" growing up.  Many people today lack self confidence and self esteem because of those negative words.  However, the good news is that the Book says, "You can!"  (The Book is the Bible or the Scriptures.  I just like to refer to it as The Book because it is the manual for living life.) 

Philippians 4:13 (from The Book) says, "I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me."  Taken in total context this verse is very interesting.  What does it mean?  Let me first explain what it doesn't mean.  It doesn't mean you and I can do anything we want to through Christ who gives us the strength to do it.  For instance, I think it would actually be quite cool if I could fly!  No, not on an airplane (I love that too).  But I think it would be cool if I could just fly.  But God didn't engineer my body (at least in this life) to fly.  Just because Paul said he could do all things through Christ who strengthens him doesn't mean he could lift a car over his head either!  (Yep I know they didn't have cars back then but I'm just saying.)  To understand Philippians 4:13 in context we must look at some previous verses in the same chapter.  In verse 11 Paul says, "...for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.Then in verse 12, "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  Paul follows with that famous verse (Philippians 4:13) by saying, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  Paul is saying, "In thick and in thin, Christ gives me the strength to handle it, carry on, and make it through!"  

So often in the hard times we find it easy to say "I can't".  But the truth is...YOU CAN...through Christ.  He didn't come just to take all your problems away.  He also came to be with you in the middle of your struggles, to hold your hand, and perhaps even carry you through your struggles.  The bottom line is...through and in Christ we can face anything!  In Christ we can endure anything!  Through Christ you find the strength to rise above any circumstance even though you are in the midst of them.  We are definitely living in challenging times.  We've all had to make some adjustments and trust God even deeper.  But the bottom line is YOU CAN...even in the circumstances.  You will make it through!  But only as you find your strength in Jesus Christ and in His will for your life.  I'm telling you...YOU CAN!

You Don't Have To Start All Over Again - Again

As I was in God's presence this morning I was overwhelmed with not only His presence...but another realization of how deep His grace reaches.  This was special!  We must realize that His grace reaches so much farther than our introduction to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Yes, that's the beginning, but God has so much more for us - because after being known by Him since before time - we now know His grace!

Too often we feel unworthy of God's best because we struggle at times with sin and the flesh.  We allow evil voices whisper to us that since we've sinned as a Christian, we've blown it and in order to get back into His grace we must go back to square one.  But that is not the truth.  To think we have to start over and that we've blown it puts us under law...not grace.  Please understand that the very nature of God's grace is that it is abundantly available to be appropriated in this walk when we fail or sin as believers.  (See 1 John 1: 9)  By God's design we confess our sins to Him and we are forgiven.  And yes, grace is not a license to sin.  But appropriated it keeps us clean from sin and unrighteousness, no matter what we have done!  That's grace.

You are worthy of God's calling on your life.  God's call on your life is irrevocable according to the Word.  You didn't work to obtain it...and you cannot commit works to cause you to loose it.  You are a precious creation of God by His Spirit.  Appropriate His grace and mercy in your life.  Whatever you've done, simply and honestly confess it to Him.  The promise is that you will be forgiven and cleansed!  Then keep on keeping on as if it never happened!  It's grace and it is Jesus!

Christianity Goes Hollywood

My last post was about The Industry of Christianity.  It's amazing how many folks are "in the ministry" for personal gain.  Whether there is a true calling or not doesn't matter if you employ the ministry for personal gain, or to build your own kingdom.  How do you know if one is employing the ministry for personal gain or to build their own kingdom?  Simple...this ministry is built around them!  It's that simple!  If this person were removed...the ministry would fall apart!  It is built on their personality.  It exalts their name and image.  Don't get me wrong.  Having a ministry named after you is not wrong.  What's wrong is when that ministry and everything about it exalts you or someone other than Jesus Christ.

Now...on to this post.  Christianity goes Hollywood!  What does this mean?  Here we go.  Much of ministry today is built on sensationalism...just like Hollywood.  What is sensationalism in ministry?  It is simply methodologies used in ministry (by man) to spice up things to make it look like God did it...just like Hollywood.  However, the motivation is to impress man in order to attract more people.  More people are attracted (by man) so BIG buildings are constructed.  When people see the BIG building they assume God has done it all.  And they assume the minister is some sort of super-minister, above and beyond the norm.  Why?  Because everything is Big!  The truth is God is not impressed at all with BIG.  He is impressed with simple trust and obedience.  God shows Himself BIG through ordinary people who couldn't do anything without Him (and they know it.).  This is NOT an attack on big ministries.  There are many big churches and ministries today (by man's standard) that are born of God and operate by faith in God.  And this world would be a worse place without them. 

Whatever happened to the pure moving of the Holy Spirit?  I'm not old fashion.  Most of you who know me know that I love the cutting edge.  I love change.  I love adapting, etc.  Whatever it takes to move and flow with God in an ever-changing culture.  But one thing that has not changed, and never will, is man's total dependence on our God to accomplish His will on this planet.  We seem to have forgotten that we desperately need Him just to gather with one another to worship Him!  The truth is...God is sensational!  How can He not be?  He is incredibly BIG and nothing is impossible for Him!  When He is allowed to be the God that He truly is, REAL stuff happens!  It doesn't matter if you swallow goldfish or balance spinning plates on sticks.  I truly believe that if we're not careful we can all be sucked into the "Hollywood" syndrome in serving God.  We can be intrigued (in the wrong ways) by flashing lights, cameras, audiences (they used to be congregations), shows (which used to be services or gatherings), props, and a host of other things we've employed to be relevant to our culture.  

Finally, why do you do what you do?  Is it because everyone else doe it?  Or because it is the latest "form"?  Just asking.  Whatever we do needs to be born of God.  Even if you are the ONLY one doing it.  

The Industry of Christianity

I wonder what the Apostle Paul would think if he could see what television has done to Christianity these days.  He says, "For we are not like many, peddling the Word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.(II Co 2: 17)  What did he mean "peddling" the Word of God?  From the original language "peddling" means to "retail" or "adulterate" the Word of God.  Even in Paul's time folks were "retailing" and "adulterating" the Word of God.  In other words, they were using the Word of God for personal gain.  Somewhere along the way (in the beginning or on into it) they discovered that the ministry of the Gospel (the Word of God) could be employed for self-gain!

I recently saw a popular televangelist selling non-perishable food for future hard times @ over $1000 a shot.  It was his way of preparing Christians for hard times ahead...@ $1000 a pop.  Jesus said that if we seek FIRST God's kingdom, and His righteousness...all these THINGS will be added to us.  (Matt. 6: 33)  This same televangelist is offering other merchandise you cannot do without for donations of $100, $500, and $1000.  Now listen.  There's nothing wrong with selling stuff to help support you ministry.  It's the same as working a job to support your ministry.  Again, absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Times are tough today.  However, it's peddling (retailing, adulterating) God's Word I'm talking about.  I once saw another TV evangelist offering holy, anointing oil (from Jerusalem) for a stiff one-time gift.  "You give this amount and I'll give you this."  I just don't think it's right for some human to determine what my blessing will be as a result of my giving from a cheerful heart.  Shouldn't that be up to God?  You see, peddling God's Word is preaching it's blessings in order to inflate your own bank account.  It's being so engrossed in this stuff that marriages and families go down the drain because the ministry is so important.  Go ahead and open up an internet store and sell the stuff.  Support yourself, (that's really OK), but just don't adulterate the Word of God.

You see, all this makes believers look pretty dumb.  Sorry about that, but it's true.  A televangelist scams millions of people, goes to prison, is released and does it again?  Come on people!  Wake up!  The world is watching and they ain't so dumb!  (Pardon the grammar.)  The purpose of Christianity is to share and spread the love of Christ.  It's ALL about Christ, a good bit about other people, and not so much about you and me!  That may sound harsh, but that's what makes true Christianity go round!  That is what truly changes a life.

And finally, beware of so-call ministries that are continually marketing crisis.  Beware of ministries that are always offering something if you give something.  Beware of ministries that always promote their high-powered founders (at the expense of godly character).  You need to pray about whom you support.  You need to investigate whom you support.  They don't have to be perfect...but make sure they are walking in godly integrity and possessing godly character.  (Coming next "Christianity Goes Hollywood")

Are You A Producer?

Are you a producer? No, I'm not talking about a movie, TV, or music producer...even though they are producers: movies, TV shows, and music. But I mean are you producing? Producing what? That depends on what you do or perhaps what you are called to do. Many folks spend years doing things they don't really like doing for the sake of making a living. And yes, making a living is a good thing, especially these days. (Don't quit your day job yet.) But I think we all struggle at different times in our lives just living a status quo, "just getting by" kind of a life-style. Sometimes we spend too much time spinning our wheels. Question: Are you truly fulfilled in what you do? If not, chances are you could probably be a better producer if you did something else. (Something you loved to do.)

I was out walking earlier this week and I feel God really, really impressed something on my heart. I'm no young whipper snapper any more (not over the hill either), and with each passing day I see more clearly the need to seriously make an impact through this precious life (only one) we are given here on the planet. What God impressed upon my heart was the realistic number of years I have left on this earth to be productive for Him. All the days, months, and years that have passed brought great opportunities, but every single one of those opportunities (taken advantage of or not) are gone for good along with the days, months, and years. That may sound some what depressing, but it is true. However, there is good news too. The years ahead that God gives me can be the most productive of my life! Looking ahead to all the marvelous opportunities He will offer, along with the experiences of the past, and with God's leading...the future is pretty bright! Now to me...that is good news.

Perhaps you are spinning your wheels. Perhaps it seems as if you're just not really least to your fullest potential. God may be presenting you an opportunity to evaluate your life. This is an opportunity you may not want to miss. Many times we overlook these opportunities because we're so ingrained in our routines (even when we hate them) or we've worked so long in a certain career field that money and getting by take precedence over being productive for Him. How many years do you have left? Truthfully that is a question none of us can answer because He is in total control of that. We simply trust Him for the next breath, and then the next, and then the next..... When I was a teenager I was convinced I was invincible. All the things I knew I needed to do could be least for now. Why? Because I had the rest of my life. When I was a young man, just starting a career I felt I had forever to be a producer. I even thought that the years I "skated" I could eventually make up because I had so much time. Now that I am in my upper, middle age years (tell me there is such a thing), I look at life much differently. And of course, as a follower of Christ, my heart is to diligently serve Him. I truly, truly (verily in King Jimmy) want my life to be productive...and only for Him.

Finally, the Book says that if we're serious, He will redeem the time. I believe that includes the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years that we have left. Let me encourage you, no matter what your age, ask God to make each day productive for you. But be warned, He will probably require you to change in some area, and in some way. Ask Him to give you extreme opportunities to make Him known by serving others. Ask Him to show you the things that are important, not simply urgent...and then do them. Look at today as another gift packed full of opportunities to be a producer...for Him!

What Are You Doing With Your Tongue?

Proverbs 18: 21 states, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit".  Wow!  Very powerful statement.  The power of death and the power of life both come from our tongue.  James 3: 6 says, "And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell".  Incredible!  When we choose to speak death with our tongue, it ignites a fire that can defile the entire body (our own and the church).  James says the fire (upon our tongues) incinerates God's destiny for our life with fire from hell!  Is that strong stuff or what?  With that tiny little piece of flesh behind our teeth we can destroy our lives, the lives of others, and thwart God's destiny.  Man!  I've seen churches destroyed by the power of just a few tongues.  Why?  Because it is a fire that spreads rapidly from person to person.  Through deception some truly believe they are doing service to God (with their tongues) spreading the fire that in all actuality destroys.

But even more powerful than the destructive fire and death is the ability to speak overcoming, overpowering life with the same tongue!  Amazing!  When will we truly believe this?  When we can practice matter what the circumstance.  I made a commitment long ago to speak life with my tongue.  Proverbs says the power of life is in the tongue.  Jesus came 2,000 years ago and defeated the power of death and darkness.  While on the earth He was tested by the enemy after he had fasted for 40 days and nights.  Matthew Chapter 4 teaches us that the enemy tempted Jesus in 3 very crucial areas.  Jesus overpowered these attempts of the enemy to thwart God's plan of salvation by saying, "It is written..."   He didn't say "In My opinion..."  Or "Well I think..."  Or "Oh God, what am I going to do?"  He simply overpowered the enemy by speaking the Word of God which is life!  Jesus finished His work of the cross and gave to you and me the responsibility of speaking life with our tongues.

To speak life means to speak against the flow of the world.  Before a person is born again they speak in line with their surroundings...the world.  But when one becomes born again by God's Spirit, they begin to speak in line with God's Word by His Spirit.  God's Word is just that...God's Word.  When I speak what He said, I am speaking what He said!  Just saying!  So let me ask you...what are you doing with your tongue?  Are you speaking death or life?  Are you spreading strife in your work place because you have talked yourself into a pit? Or...are you changing a naturally bad situation with the life in your tongue?  Just asking.  I always make it a point to speak to my co-workers and ask them how they are doing.  Nine times out of ten I get the  response, "I'm here."  I didn't ask if you were here.  I asked how are you doing!  I usually respond by saying..."Well I'm glad you are here.  Wouldn't be the same without you!"  That usually gets either a weird look or a smile from the person!

As long as we live on planet earth death and life will be in the power of our tongue.  The choice is yours, speak death or life.  What will you do?

The Power of a Grateful Heart

It's almost unbelievable how quickly 2010 is running its course.  Here we are past October and heading toward Thanksgiving in America.  I thought I'd pen a few words about Thanksgiving.  I like to call it a grateful heart or simply...gratefulness. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? It didn't start as a national holiday back when the first settlers started the concept. Actually after that first brutal winter and growing season, it was a celebration of life and harvest. The first settlers (the ones who were still breathing) gathered to commemorate God's protection and sustenance. The gratefulness was genuine. I mean think about it. Many of your family and friends died throughout that first year. Through the difficulty, death, and destitution...a group had survived and now wanted to give God all the thanks. Making it through hard times and difficulty produces a truly grateful heart.

Understand that a grateful heart is very powerful. It is a force that motivates a person to endure the most difficult of circumstances. A grateful heart can recall God's past faithfulness and envision His future faithfulness. The result is a steadfastness in the present that has a supernatural origin. No one looks forward to tough times. But it's the tough times that toughen us up! Connie and I understand tough times and I'm sure you do too. Tough times come in different shapes and sizes for different people but the result (should we choose it) is the same...a grateful heart. I'll admit, tough times can also produce numerous opportunities to complain and maybe even murmur (I'm sure you don't though.) But a truly grateful heart acknowledges that God is fully in control. We don't always understand the circumstances...but we can understand God does and has all the answers. This simply means that we can thank Him in the hard times as well as the easy times.

A grateful heart makes one sensitive to the needs of others. I don't mean this to sound bad, but there is always someone whose situation is worse than ours! What a great time to thank God for His faithfulness to us, and offer ourselves to Him to be an instrument to help others. A grateful heart. It's very powerful. A grateful heart endures circumstances because its eyes are not on the circumstances but on God.

Finally, I'm reminded of how Judah was completely surround by its enemies in II Chronicles Chapter 20. Jehoshaphat was a godly king and gathered the whole nation for prayer. If God doesn't intervene...the whole nation will be wiped out. In this prayer meeting Jehoshaphat leads the prayer and begins to thank God for all He has done and all He has promised for Israel. Then He says, "We are powerless against this great multitude, nor do we know what to do. Nevertheless...our eyes are on You." God moved in behalf of the nation of Judah and routed its enemies. It took three days for Judah's people to collect the spoils of the battle. A grateful heart is powerful. I encourage you in these hard times...remember His faithfulness, thank Him for His future faithfulness, and thank Him for all you have today. It will change things. It's the power of a grateful heart.

Doors of Destiny

I once heard the late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole say that life is a collection of entrances and exits. That really impacted me. He went on to say that life was like a collection of doors. When you go through a door you leave one room and enter another. Or you simply exit one realm and enter another. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 says there is an appointed time for everything. Some versions use the word "season". There is an appointed season for everything under the sun. There are entrances and exists at God's appointed time.

Our lives consist of successive entrances and exits. In order for you to get to work you must exit your home, enter your car, exit your car, and enter your workplace! Wow! Pretty deep huh? In order for you to exit your bedroom, you just may have to enter a hall or some other room in your home! Again, life is a succession of entrances and exits. Why is life like that? It is because we live and operate (for now) in a realm that is governed by time and seasons. The sun rises and the sun sets (while the earth rotates). Seasons come and seasons go (because the earth revolves around the sun). It is the very nature of changing seasons that keeps us moving forward toward our destiny. Here's a simple example. In order for your destiny to be fulfilled you must get from point A to point Z. You'll never get there unless you get to point B first. You'll never completely get to point Z by settling in at point M. With God in control, you must go through every point between A and Z until you arrive at Point Z. Each point is a season in your life. The transition from point to point is simply a series of entrances and exits. But each point and each door is necessary! Each season of change in your life prepares you for an eternity with God in a realm that is no longer governed by time!

If you are leaving a season of your life and you don't know why, it is because it is necessary. If you were comfortable in your current season and everything changed, it is because it was necessary. It is because you are moving forward toward completion of your destiny! God never intended for things to stay the same way every day of your life. I am convinced that many Christ-followers endanger the fulfillment of their awesome destiny because they cannot recognize seasons of change. They don't see the door of opportunity that takes them out of one realm, and launches them into the next God-ordained realm! Don't change just because you think you have to. Simply look for the doors God will place before you. True change never takes place unless you go through the door. Let God open the door for you, but you must see it and go through it. He won't push you though. And remember, there is a season for everything! (See Ecclesiastes Chapter 3).

How Great Is Our God?

No that's not the title of an awesome worship song.  It's a question.  How great is our God?

I'm up a little early on Sunday morning.  I just pulled my head out from between my ear buds.  I'll have to say I'm pumped!  An incredible time in one-on-one worship to Him will do that you know.  God always impacts me in some significant way every time I spend time in His presence.  Today is no exception.  I came away this time wondering "How great is our God?"

Life can be challenging...most all of the time!  Some of the problems it presents cannot be ignored.  However, time in God's presence presents a proper perspective on life and it's challenges.  The perspective I am talking about is God's perspective.  He faithfully shares it with the one who will spend personal time with Him.  What looks so big, mean, and nasty from Steve's perspective doesn't look so big, mean, and nasty from God's perspective.  God, the Creator is incredibly large!  Nothing happens to you and me that He doesn't see.  He knows about every single need we have...even before we ask Him to provide!  But sometimes we just don't see how great He is until we see it from His perspective!  Let me attempt to put that another way.  God is truly incredibly great.  But we don't really, really see that until we see it from His perspective.  The Bible repeatedly states how great He is...but sometimes we still don't see it until His Word is illuminated in our hearts by His presence.

We know how important it is to spend time in the presence of God don't we?  We know it strengthens us in our inner person.  We know it changes us from the inside out.  But let's also know we see more clearly how great our God is when we go to Him and spend time with Him.  When we clearly see how great our God is, we also clearly see how insignificant our challenges are.  So let me ask great is our God?

Stop Working And Be Blessed!

As usual I am up early and hanging out with my Maker.  I love these early times when it's God and me.  I love to read and study His Word and today is no exception.  I've just started studying the book of Romans.  This morning I started with Romans Chapter 4.  However I cannot get past verse 5.  I've been meditating on this verse and getting my bedroom slippers blessed off.  Here's how it reads:  "But to the one who does not work (for his own righteousness), but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."  (Parenthesis added).  Rom. 4: 5

The rock of truth in this short scripture is God justifies the ungodly.  Not you or me.  We must understand that only God can justify or make us righteous in His eyes.  That's what counts!  When that sinks in, we understand the power of His grace and how He allows us to appropriate it simply by faith.  Let me put it another way.  God is the One...the only One who can justify you and me.  However...we must simply believe in Him (that He has done it) to receive it.  Some struggle to believe.  But believing is very easy compared to working for it.  Believing that one cannot make themselves righteous through works helps us to believe that He has already done it!

I really like the way Paul quotes David to illustrate his point in this passage.  Listen to this.  "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered."  Wow!  Jesus came and completed the work.  Your lawless deeds have been forgiven.  When you simply believe in Jesus (and what He did) you are forgiven.  You do not have to work for this!  David considers this an incredible state of blessedness!  He goes on to say in Romans 4: 8, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not take into account."  This is great news!  No matter what you've done in the past, not matter how much of a scurvy dog you were, believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and what He has done frees you from ALL your sins!

Stop working to be accepted by Him.  He has forgiven you!  I John 1: 9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."  What do you think my friend?

A Wonderful Dad

Bill & Ruth Hutto
The very first thing I want to say about my Dad is that he truly loved my Mom.  From as far back as I can remember he demonstrated his love for her every day.  Just this past  August they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Just like your dad, mine was not perfect, but he truly loved his family.  One of the greatest blessings of my life is to have had a dad who loved us.  We saw him go through thick and thin.  We saw him tried and tested through the years, but he always loved his family.  Even to his last days, he demonstrated his love for Mom and all the rest.  I still have the image of him getting up, walking across the room and giving Mom a big peck on the check.  This was just last month!  Actually this happened several times...every day!

I still have the mental videos of Dad and I fishing.  Even though he was not the world's foremost fisherman, he loved to fish.  To him "just getting out" was the most important part of fishing.  We spent vacations on the Jorden river near Bay St. Louis, MS fishing.  He used to tell us kids that a "Gasper-Goo" would come up out of the river at night to get us.  To tell you the truth...we didn't believe him, but we went along because it was so funny.

Dad was a great artist and drew and painted many pictures.  He would draw caricatures of us kids doing crazy things.  To illustrate my sweet tooth he once drew one of me literally sucking all the candy out of the candy counter in Standard Drugs.  In later years he really, really got in to computers.  He loved to "doctor" up pictures by superimposing funny things on them.  Quite often he would place his own head on a muscle-bound body to make himself look like a body-builder.  We've all been recreated as aliens, superman, superwoman, animals, some infamous scoundrels I'd better not mention, and more!

Dad would throw the football with us.  He took me out in the front yard one cold winter night after dinner.  Along with me he took a small propane torch and a light, clear plastic clothes bag.  He lit the torch and filled the clothes bag with hot air.  I watched in awe as he released the bag and it floated up into the dark sky...out of sight!  Dad liked to spend time with us even though his life was filled with the busyness of owning a small-town pharmacy.

Connie and I had been in the ministry for many years.  We left my stomping grounds in 1976 and had been away ever since.  But about this time last year, God began to speak to both of us to relocate to be closer to her Mom and my parents.  Due to our location and the ministry we could see them only once, maybe twice a year...and then only for a few days.  It was a big decision, but we knew God was directing us.  Last December I resigned from my church in Jefferson, GA, and in January we made the move back to the area of my up-bringing.  I went to work full-time for a major retailer in Meridian, MS.  We relocated to Newton, about 30 miles from my parents.  Little did I know we would have only 8 1/2 months with Dad.  But what a blessing it was!  I constantly thank God for these past few months we had with him.  An even greater blessing is to know how much it blessed his life to have us around!

I could make this really, really long but I won't.  Let me finish by thanking God for the way Dad left us.  He simply left us in his sleep.  There was no pain or suffering.  It took us by surprise, but I find comfort in knowing this, and in knowing where he now is.  Dad knew Jesus as his Savior.  I saw him draw closer and closer to Him in the later years.  Even after he had slipped away there was a peace on his face.  In my opinion, there's no better way to make the transition into glory!  The way he went was a demonstration of God's grace and mercy to we his family.  Again, thank you Jesus for that.

Cherish your family.  If you still have your parents...cherish them.  Spend time with them.  Don't wait until they are gone to wish you had spent more time with them.  No amount of work or ministry is more important that the family God gave to you.  Love them enough to have to trust God to take a big step in their behalf if He directs you to do so (like He did us).  I am so glad He spoke to us, and I so glad we obeyed!

Dad, we miss you...a lot.  But we will see you again.  Thank God for that.

All Roads Lead To Rome

It is often said that "all roads lead to Rome," and in fact, they once did. The road system of the Ancient Roman Empire was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time, with over 50,000 miles of paved road radiating from their center at the miliarius aurem in the Forum in the city of Rome. Although the Roman road system was originally built to facilitate the movement of troops throughout the empire, it was inevitably used for other purposes such as trade, and by civilians then and now.

There are many, many religions in the world today.  All of them proclaim to lead to God (or at least the god (or gods) of their religion.  Wikipedia says...[In religion and theology, "universalism" is a principle that asserts that all people are under the consideration and love of God, and that theological concepts (doctrines) which conform to this concept are in fact more in accord with the divine concepts.]  Simply stated, "all religions lead to God".  As the mindset that man is basically good within himself spreads in these last days, more and more people will be deluded into believing that salvation in Christ is not necessary.  

The Bible makes it very clear about the road to salvation.  The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1: 15 - 18, "He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - for all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."  In other words, it is all about Jesus!  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father (Father God) but through me!"  He said in John 11: 25, "I am the resurrection and the life..."  To sum up what Paul said, Jesus is:  the head, the beginning, the firstborn, and first place in everything!  He is the icon of God, the creator of all things, before all things, and He holds all things together.  It is truly All about Jesus.

Today's world is full of religions that seemingly offer many ways to God.  But the only way to the true God, Jehovah God, is through Jesus Christ, the sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus said the way is very broad and the gate extremely wide that leads to destruction.  But the way to eternal life with God is very narrow and the gate is very small.  What Jesus was saying is that there is only ONE way, and the road that leads to the gate into heaven is narrow and small.  All roads may lead to Rome, but only one leads to God, the Father.  That road is Jesus!

The Naysayers

Serving God presents many opportunities to see the supernatural side of God.  Think about it.  The fact that He provided salvation to the human race is a miracle.  There was no way that you and I could save ourselves.  We truly needed a miracle.  God became one of us (human) in the form of His Son Jesus.  Even the way He arrived was a supernatural occurrence.  A baby born of a virgin!  Jesus grew up as a human.  However He was also God in the form of a human.  Thus He performed many miracles while He was on the earth.  He spoke with the authority of God the Father which truly amazed the folks who heard and experienced His words.  To culminate His work on the earth He gave up His life...but three days later He took it back!  He rose from the dead!  I mean God (and following after Him) is all about the supernatural!

But it is truly amazing there were a few people who actually limited the power and ministry of Jesus.  Who were these people?  These were the "naysayers".  These were the ones who simply could not or would not believe in Him.  (See Matthew 13:54-58) The problem was that these naysayers knew Jesus more from a human sense than a supernatural sense.  They knew Him as the son of Joseph or Mary or as one of the brothers of the family.  Their lack of faith in Him was founded on His humanity and not on His supernatural Godhood.  These folks whose mindset was normally "show me a miracle and I'll believe" could not get  past their familiarity with him as a neighbor.  Thus...they were naysayers.  A naysayer says "It can't possibly work because..."  A naysayer says, "You can't do that because..."  Because of what?  Because they have been there and done that doesn't work.  Because they don't do it that way.  Because it simply won't work.  To be truthful, a naysayer has absolutely no faith.  They are comfortable in the negative.  Anything involving faith or risk makes them very, very uncomfortable.

The most dangerous aspect of a naysayer is that they are not content just feeling that way within.  They must spread their conviction.  In a sense they become like police.  And they feel an obligation, even a responsibility to see that others feel the way they do and operate accordingly.  They influence others by trying to keep them from being successful and reaching their potential.  

The truth is, we all have become naysayers at one time or the other.  How does this happen?  We become so familiar with the mechanics of worshipping Him, we tend to believe more in the man-made aspect of it than the supernatural.  We're so familiar with what we're doing our present faith is directed more to what we have done than what He is doing.  When we are challenged by Him to launch forth or step out or move ahead...we can't (or won't) because we are so familiar with the process, anything beyond is impossible!  Those folks hindered Jesus because they were so familiar with Him as a man and as a neighbor they couldn't see Him as God.  It took faith to know Him as God and they didn't have it.

Let's get beyond the point of familiarity.  Let's hunger and thirst for the "more" He has for us so that we're open to anything His Word will substantiate!  His Word reports that He is the miracle maker.  His Word says the things impossible for you and me are possible with Him!  If His very arrival to the earth was an incredible miracle...ponder what He can do for you and me today!  Those naysayers mostly hindered the ministry of Jesus to themselves...not to anyone else.  I don't know about you but I want to be one who says "Yes, He can...and He will!"  Not one who says "No, he won't!"  What about you?

The Truth About The Truth

The Bible makes it clear that when one becomes born again immediately the power and tyranny of sin is broken over them.  This is a result of Jesus' work on earth which led Him to the cross to pay the price for the sins of all mankind.  This was ratified in His rising from the dead which provides eternal life for those who receive and follow Him. The point at which one receives Jesus is the starting point in an awesome relationship that is designed to grow throughout the rest of eternity...way far beyond this life.  So why are so many born again believers of Jesus still bound to sin?  Why are so many returning to the sins they were set free from?  And why are so many believers being trapped into new areas of sin in their lives?

There's a marked difference between being tripped up by the enemy and stumbling, and being bound to sin in certain areas of your life.  Jesus said whoever commits sin is the slave of sin.  This means to willingly and knowingly sin.  In another place He said you become the slave of whatever you submit to.  The truth of what He implies is that as strong as the pull of sin can be on a born again Christian...we still have much to do with whether we become a slave to it or not!  And Jesus made it possible through His sacrifice for you and me to REMAIN free from sin.  We have our part.  James said that if we submit ourselves to God, resist the enemy...he will flee from us.

Even before Jesus went to the cross He began to prepare us to live in victory over sin.  John 8:31- 32 says,  "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  Notice that Jesus had a message for those who had just believed Him.  I'm convinced that the next few words of out Jesus' mouth would not have come out of His mouth had those Jews not believed Him.  For those who had just believed Him Jesus was telling them "You are about to become free.  However, you must continue in my teaching in order to stay free.  Why?  Because I (He said) teach the truth...and it is the truth that will make you free!  Believing Me is not enough.  If you really believe Me, you will live what I teach and you will do what I instruct you to do.  Why?  Because what I teach is the truth...and the truth will make you free!"  It is obvious these Jewish believers needed a lot of Jesus' teaching.  This fact was revealed as they totally missed Jesus' point.  Listen to John 8:33, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"  These folks (who were enslaved) didn't even know they were enslaved!  But Jesus' teaching (the truth) would set them free.  The requirement however, was to forsake the world, their man-made traditions, live the word's of Jesus, and follower hard after Him!

In all of His infinite wisdom Jesus was unveiling a plan for these skeptical Jewish folks to become free from the bondage of their sins.  This is ingenious!  Listen to John 8:34 - 36.  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  In His example Jesus compares a slave to a son.  A slave may work in the house, but he is not a part of the house (lineage or family).  And even in a physical sense he one day will be removed and replaced by another slave.  He may even be sold and replaced.  On the other hand, a son will be a part of the family (house or lineage) forever!  Why?  Because of the blood line.  Jesus was about to pour out His blood for the whole world and send forth the Spirit of adoption that would make all who truly believe in Him sons of God!  They would no longer be slaves, but sons!  No longer enslaved (to darkness) but free!  Again, Jesus said, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  Jesus also was telling you and me that if we are truly sons and daughter of God, we can no longer LIVE as slaves.  Why?  Because we're not slaves anymore.  We are sons and daughters.  We are free!

Jesus' stay on the earth was temporary.  He would eventually return to the Father in glory.  So He tells these folks to "Continue in my word and you will be my genuine followers.  The result is you will know the truth...and it is the truth that will make (and keep) you free."  And that's the truth about the truth!

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

I remember some of our vacations as a child.  We would usually go down to the Coast for a week.  From where we lived it was about a 3 hour trip.  3 hours doesn't sound like a long time, but to a child it can seem like an eternity!  3 hours of anticipation can make it seem like 12 hours!  Finally we would get there and somehow it seemed worth the long trek.  Back then I didn't care about the journey.  I just wanted to get there.  "Are we there yet?"  To me vacation didn't begin until I could run out of the motel room and cannonball into the pool!  Even as a young man I didn't care for the trip.  I just wanted to hit the road and stop only when we got matter how far it was.  But something happened to me at some point.  I can't pinpoint it exactly, but it happened some time after I invited Jesus into my life.

At this current point in my life,  the journey is just as much fun as the whole vacation.  Instead of barreling down the interstate (we won't discuss the speeds), Connie and I simply love taking the back roads, taking pictures, and stopping to look at the sights.  We've learned that the journey is just as much a part of the trip.

Life itself is a journey.  We are constantly moving forward through time.  Life around us continually changes as well as the bodies we live in.  Life is less like a series of snapshots and more like a video!  It is ever changing.  I have learned that those days gone by are just that...gone by.  You can't live them again.  But you can still enjoy the journey (the present).  You are on a journey right now.  Your destination is God's awesome plan, purpose, and destiny for your life.  You may feel like you're in a holding pattern or like you're going nowhere at the present.  But you are.  Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy today, because once it's gone, it's gone.  The lyrics to the song "While I'm Waiting" explain that you can be blessed at any point on the journey because He is with you...all the time and all the way. 

"I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait"

No.  We're not there enjoy the journey!