My Top 5 Posts Of 2013

Are You A Participator Or A Spectator?

There has been a lot of football on the TV lately. Of course it has. It's that time of year. Bowl games and playoff games filling the airwaves in great number! Stadiums filled with ravenous fans rooting on their favorite team. Add to that the millions of fans watching by national television. It's all because 22 men on a field - battle it out for a trophy, an egg, a championship, a title, and bragging rights for the next year. Yes, it's that time of year again. (Read more...)

The Miracle Of His Birth

It's that time of year when many folks celebrate the birth of Jesus. Even though the exact month and date of His birth is unknown, it is still a very special time of the year. Most of the world (even other religions) at least acknowledge His coming. However, to followers of Christ, one of the greatest attributes of His coming is the miracle of His birth. It is the way Jesus was born that infuses Him with the authority to defeat all evil. No one else has ever been conceived and born in such a manner. It was truly a miracle; a miracle like none other. (Read more...)

The Chronicles Of A Missionary (India)

My first trip to India was the one that radically changed my life as a follower of Christ. I was the Pastor of a church which regularly supported an Indian pastor. My purpose for my first trip to India was more visionary than anything else. I wanted to get a good look at where the church's finances were going, and how it was being used. This particular purpose ... (Read more.)

What You May Not Know About Marriage

Marriage is an institution. It is an institution established by God Himself. If you are a Christ-follower a keen understanding of this can revolutionize your marriage. If you're not a Christ-follower what I am about to share can draw you to the cross of Jesus.

The institution of marriage was established immediately after God took one of Adam's ribs and made Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) For what reason?...(Read More.)

Will Jesus Return Soon?

Can you see what I see? Can you sense what I am sensing? It really doesn't take much to see and feel that we are living in very interesting times. If you are a student of the Bible much of what is happening in this world and in the heavens today is not really surprising. It's been prophesied, we've read about it for years, and now we are seeing it come to pass. 

I am not an "end-time specialist" but since I am a student of the Word, and live in the end times, I can sense we are very, very near to the return of Jesus. (Read more.)

What You May Not Know About Marriage

Marriage is an institution. It is an institution established by God Himself. If you are a Christ-follower a keen understanding of this can revolutionize your marriage. If you're not a Christ-follower what I am about to share can draw you to the cross of Jesus.

The institution of marriage was established immediately after God took one of Adam's ribs and made Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) For what reason? To answer this question we must look at the preceding 3 verses. "So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (Genesis 2: 21-23)

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2: 24) The word "man" in the preceding verse is the Hebrew word 'îysh which means - a male or a man or a husband as an individual. The word "wife" in the same verse is the Hebrew word 'ishshâh which means - a female or a woman or a wife as an individual. It is actually the feminine form of the word 'îysh. Now I am not a Hebrew scholar, but it is clear here that the Scriptures refer to male and female, husband and wife completing God's institution of marriage. They become "one flesh" in God's eyes, just as Adam was one flesh before God created Eve.

Here is another (and perhaps very unique way to look at it). God created Adam with all the attributes of male and female. This may sound weird but think about it. Adam was created in the image of God. Even though Adam had all the attributes of male and female he was alone. So God took part of Adam and made Eve. Eve now had female attributes. Adam retained male attributes. And...according to the Scripture they are not complete until the "two become one flesh". "One flesh" is marriage. God designed it so that the "oneness" is completed through complete intimacy within that marriage.

Marriage between a man and a woman is holy and ordained by God. When couples acknowledge this they enter into the blessings of God. Why? Because God blesses marriage they way He instituted it. One of God's blessings of a Godly marriage is the gift of children.

This issue of marriage between a man and a woman, and the two becoming "one flesh" is mentioned several times throughout the Bible. Jesus stresses it. "And He answered and said, 'Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."(Matthew 19:4-6) (Upper case added by NASB) Mark's account of this is almost identical in chapter 10. Paul addressing marriage mentions this in Ephesians 5:31.

Paul teaches in Ephesians that the Godly institution of marriage should be a reflection of the relationship between Christ, and His bride the church. He also stresses that in order to have and to maintain a Godly marriage we must study the relationship between Christ and the church.

Finally, please let me encourage you to include Jesus in your marriage. Build your marriage on Jesus Christ Himself...making Him the center and foundation of it. When your marriage struggles (and sometimes it will be challenged), keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the Creator of marriage. Understand that the ways of the world only work against marriage. But Jesus as the center of your marriage will empower it to stand and overcome the challenges of this world. Remember marriage is holy and instituted by God.

The Love Dare
By Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick / B & H Publishing Group

Discover the #1 best-selling devotional seen in the hit movie Fireproof! Featuring a new preface from the Kendrick brothers and real-life reader testimonies, this updated 40-day guide is designed to steer you away from a painful breakup---and back to your spouse. Includes Scripture, a practical daily challenge, journaling space, and a progress checklist. 256 pages, softcover from B&H.

The Miracle Of His Birth

It's that time of year when many folks celebrate the birth of Jesus. Even though the exact month and date of His birth is unknown, it is still a very special time of the year. Most of the world (even other religions) at least acknowledge His coming. However, to followers of Christ, one of the greatest attributes of His coming is the miracle of His birth. It is the way Jesus was born that infuses Him with the authority to defeat all evil. No one else has ever been conceived and born in such a manner. It was truly a miracle; a miracle like none other.

Others like Isaac, Samuel, and John the Baptist were born through miraculous circumstances, but only Jesus was born of a virgin. This miracle establishes with extreme significance who He was and is. I want to encourage you to focus on this miracle this year. If you do, the significance of His coming and the significance of His sacrifice will mean much more to you.

What is so miraculous about His birth? The miracle is that He was born of a virgin. He was born through Mary, a young woman who had never had relations with a man. So who was the father of Jesus? The Bible clearly states that God is His Father. Did God have relations with Mary? No, not in the natural sense. Of course not. Remember Mary was a virgin meaning she had no relations with anyone. So how did this happen. It was supernatural. God is supernatural, and when He moves it is...well...supernatural.

This is how the Scripture describes it: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you (Mary), and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (The Angel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:35) I've seen God do many miracles in my walk with Him. I once saw a man with a broken foot get instantly healed. How did that happen? The Holy Spirit came upon him. I saw a crippled man in India get instantly healed. How did that happen? The Holy Spirit came upon him, God's power overshadowed him, and he was healed. Miraculous! When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, and the power of the Most High overshadows them...the supernatural happens. This is what happened to the virgin Mary. And the reason the child Jesus was called the Son of God is because He was the result of the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary, and the power of God the Father overshadowing her. By virtue of this event He was literally born of God (into this world).

The birth of Jesus is much more than an event. It is more than something we celebrate at a certain time of the year. The conception and birth of Jesus is a miracle performed by God for you and me. God used this miracle to establish the significance of His coming to earth. Only God in the flesh could be an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Only a human being without sin could qualify to pay the price of the penalty sin demanded for humanity. Only God Himself, in the form of a man could hang on the cross totally without spot or blemish or sin and take away the sins of the world.

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. A miracle!

This year as we celebrate His birth and His coming to the earth, let's focus on the miracle of His birth. No other religion came lay claim to the truth that their god was born of man and God through a young virgin. That is miraculous! Only those who follow after Jesus Christ can do so. What a substantial, faith-building miracle! The miracle of His birth.

333816: Why the Nativity? 25 Compelling Reasons We Celebrate the Birth of Jesus Why the Nativity? 25 Compelling Reasons We Celebrate the Birth of Jesus
By David Jeremiah / Tyndale House

In Why the Nativity? 25 Compelling Reasons We Celebrate the Birth of Jesus, author David Jeremiah addresses the top 25 questions frequently asked about the birth of Jesus. He discusses how Jesus' birth changed both world history and the lives of countless people. Read this book and this year when your friends and neighbors ask, "What's all the hoopla about Christmas?," you'll be ready. Includes discussion questions. Paperback.

Are You Running On Empty?

No one likes to run out of gas when driving. Fortunately for me, I'm not one of those who often procrastinates filling up the tank...which can result in a perfectly healthy car stranded on the side of the road! I'll have to admit though...there was one time I ran out of gas. I was actually on the way to the gas station when it happened. Again...fortunately for me, I actually coasted right up to the gas pump! I don't like the thought of running out of gas so I do my best to make sure I don't! I keep at least one eye on the gas gauge at all times.

You probably don't like running out of gas and being stranded somewhere either. My advice to you is to always keep the tank full! Instead of running near empty, run on full!

I see this happening with Christians also. Many of us procrastinate spending necessary time in the presence of God. We allow busy schedules and other things to take the place filling up on the presence of Jesus. Or we fill up on the wrong things. The result is we live our Christian lives running near empty. In Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Jesus wasn't emphasizing how to get "things". He was stressing the truth that He is first in "all things".  Seeking after "things" will drain your tank faster than anything!

In Ephesians 5 Jesus said to fill up with the Holy Spirit, not wine. Wine here represents the things of the world. Instead of becoming drunk on the things of the world, be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a marked difference. To be filled with the things of the world means to be empty of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit from seeking after Him means to be running on a full tank for Him.

In God's kingdom seeking is filling. I'm talking about serious seeking from a hungry heart. Seeking after Him is the way to be filled with Him. That's why Jesus said to seek Him and His kingdom first...and the "things" fall into place at a lower priority.

The reason you and I are called by God is to make a difference in someone else's life. It's the presence and the work of God in and through you that truly makes a difference in this world. If you neglect precious filling up time with Him you will run on empty. Running on empty as a Christian will not change anyone or anything. Running on empty will produce empty works, tradition, and in some cases...nothing at all. Let me encourage you to seek Him first. Seek Him regularly. Seek Him earnestly! He will move in you and through you.

You are created to do great exploits for Him. Thus you are also created to be filled with Him! That's how you and others will be changed. Don't run near empty! Make seeking Him your very first priority. Run hard on FULL!

21605EB: When God Turned Off the Lights: True Stories of Seeking God in the Darkness - eBook When God Turned Off the Lights: True Stories of Seeking God in the Darkness - eBook
By Cecil Murphey / Regal Books

Each of us experiences times of spiritual darkness, when God seems far away. It's like the lights have gone off and we are left to fumble in the darkness. In When God Turned Off the Lights author Cecil Murphey shares how he's walked this path on three separate occasions, and offers hard-earned wisdom to help you on your journey. He believes we have three choices during a spiritual blackout--give up, examine yourself for sin, or accept that God has a purpose for your pain. Previously titled Seeking God's Hidden Face.

Finish The Race!

It is quite obvious that anyone who runs in a race does so to finish the race. One will never win without finishing. Don't be disappointed in losing if you didn't finish the race. You must finish to win. A youth minister preached years back that "A champion is one who never quits!" In other words, you will never become a champion if you drop out or give up. This particular truth I have never forgotten.

Sometimes winning is finishing. For example when running a marathon most people are pleased just to finish. To them it is an extreme victory. Our walk with Jesus is very similar. We are all in the race to run and to win. But the way we win is to finish. The winners are those who don't quit; those who don't give up. The winners are the ones who finish, and finish strong. When it is over they will have crossed the finish line to receive THE prize.

Your enemy the devil knows that you are in a race. You are in a race to reach the finish line. To finish strong is to fulfill your destiny in Christ. The enemy's greatest ploy is to get you to quit before you cross the finish line, and thus leave your destiny unfulfilled. He does not want to see you in the winners circle, or wearing the victor's crown.

Now please listen to this. God never said the race would be a picnic. He never said it would be a breeze. As a matter of fact, Paul not only refers to this walk as a race but he also refers to it as a fight. He commands Timothy his son in the Lord to "fight the good fight". (1 Timothy 1:18) He tells him again in 1 Timothy 6:12 to "Fight the good fight of faith." Then in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith..." This walk is a race and it is a fight. We must run to the finish line and fight to the finish!

It is inevitable as Christians (who are still human) that we will stumble and fall at times during the race. We will get knocked down sometimes in the fight. We will struggle with attitudes and temptations we know are outright wrong. When we do fall what do we do? Do we quit? Will God kick us out of the race? Are we disqualified?

First of all, know that stumbling, falling, and outright sinning will not disqualify you and me from the race. This is contrary to popular opinion. Many folks give up because they assume God is mad at them (for manifesting some humanity) and has disqualified them from the race. On the contrary. God says, "Get up my child! Get back in the race! Continue the fight!" When you and I stumble God is cheering us on to get back up and continue more than anyone else. Your biggest Cheerleader is God! 

Remember: It is the grace of God that gets you into the Kingdom and my friend, it is His grace that keeps you there. By the very same token, it is God's grace that gets us into the race, and it is His grace that keeps us qualified to continue on even when we fall! Please understand that.

Keep running. Keep fighting. Keep moving forward. Don't quit! Don't look back at what you did. Look ahead to the finish line. Know who you will see? Jesus! He has already won the race and won the fight for you! He is cheering you on! All you have to do to join Him is finish...but finish strong!

370133: Finish the Race Cap Finish the Race Cap
By Swanson, Inc.

Race car theme baseball style cap with checkered pattern, embroidered graphicsFinish the Race; hook and loop back closure is embroidered with Scripture referenceII Tim. 4:7

29545EB: Eric Liddell: Finish the Race - eBook Eric Liddell: Finish the Race - eBook
By John Keddie / CF4K

Learn about the amazing life of Eric Liddell, the "Flying Scot", with this Trailblazers biography. Written for children 8-14, kids will learn about Liddell's early years as a missionary's child in China, his Olympic running years, and finally his final years in a Prisoner of War camp in China.

Christmas Day, The Next Victim Of Commercial Greed

Christmas day is next! No I don't mean the next holiday. I mean Christmas Day will be the next holiday to fall to the greed of commercialism. (I didn't say the Christmas season, I said Christmas Day.)

To make one more dollar, stores will begin to remain open...yes even on Christmas Day. Like Thanksgiving Day, the priority of the "bottom line" will rise far above the true meaning of the day, and Christmas Day will become the ultimate feeding frenzy for compulsive shoppers and money-hungry corporate executives. Even now, commemorating the birth of Jesus, Savior of the world has a far lower priority than celebrating the giving and getting of the perfect Christmas gift.

Back to Thanksgiving Day, I remember a time when the day was a real family holiday. Businesses were closed. Families would get together simply to be together. Some would even acknowledge their complete and utter dependence on God by offering thanks to Him for who He is and what He has done. I commend those of you who still do.

As one who worked in retail for a national chain of stores I dreaded Thanksgiving Day. In order to survive the day after Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday I would have to shorten my Thanksgiving considerably. That same chain as well as many others began opening on Thanksgiving evening and remain open until the end of Black Friday. By the way, I am no longer with this particular chain of stores. Christmas Day is next. There will no longer be any "last minute shopping". You can always shop. Why wait till the last minute when you can do all of your shopping on Christmas Day!

I hereby, right now issue you this challenge. Take back your Thanksgiving Day! Make the giving of thanks to Jesus its only priority. Protect Christmas Day! Don't give it up to commercialism and the thrill of fighting for a few dollars off! It's up to you! It is the consumer that sets the pace. The retailer simply tosses out the morsel. If you gobble up the morsel, the retailer throws more. If you don't, the retailer goes back to the drawing board. The bottom line is that they respond to you!

Don't let commercialism destroy your Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day! Make your home a place of refuge. Return to their true meanings. Be different. Be a light to those who need the light. Jesus said you are a lamp high on the lamp stand for all to see His love. He also said you are a city set high upon a hill, again for all to see His love. What better time to raise Him up than right here at Thanksgiving and through the entire Christmas holiday season.

567909: The Purpose of Christmas The Purpose of Christmas
By Rick Warren

Relevancy or Anointing?

I am a firm advocate of "relevancy" when it comes to church and ministry. In order for our ministry to be the most effective, there must be a keen sense of relevancy to those we desire to target. Relevancy is a crucial tool in hitting the target we set.

However, relevancy can never replace the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. In so many cases God's precious and powerful Spirit is relegated to the position of a hopeful bi-product of relevancy. What I mean is, if our methods are the newest, latest, and of course what other successful churches are doing...then...that must be what God is doing. That must be the Spirit, right?

Relevancy is often mistaken for the presence and power of God's Spirit. "If it's working for them, it must be God. So let us do it." The problem with this is God may want to do something totally different at your church or ministry! And to know what this is, church leadership must be the first ones to get before God and seek Him earnestly! Don't observe the fruit of another's prayers and assume that's exactly what God has in store for you! Seek Him. Hear from Him.

The effort to get the "unchurched" into the local house of God is a noble one. But being relevant to them without the presence of the Spirit doesn't mean they will stay, let alone their lives changed. There may be a good show, with the best of talent...even professional. But again, people will never be changed in the absence of the Holy Spirit. When folks are genuinely touched by God's Spirit, and genuinely changed...they will come back. They will also bring others. The relevancy of the Holy Spirit cannot be manufactured or duplicated. He simply must be there!

My Post is not to criticize churches and ministries who are cutting-edge in their methods. You must be relevant. Our methods can be up-to-date in order to connect with people. But our methods and procedures, cutting-edge or not, must be born of the Holy Spirit. And He must be there. No one can be more relevant that the Holy Spirit. He knows everything about us. He knows our hearts. We need to get that! Without His presence there really is no relevancy. We need His presence - not in name alone - but in presence and power! Relevancy without the presence of the Spirit will eventually turn to stale religious tradition. 

If your church is "trying something new" every year or so, the truth is the church leadership is not praying and needs to. Changing to something new is not bad. But when the Spirit brings about the change, lives are changed. That's the fruit of Holy Spirit relevancy!

In my humble opinion relevancy is far less important that His presence. It's a lot easier too! Therefore God's Spirit is more than enough.


This book unlocks a glorious new perspective-- and God glorifying perspective that can give life full meaning and enlarge one's narrow universe a per-spective that will surely strengthen and sustain the human spirit for real fruitfulness even amid adversity.


Throughout this post I will use the word "different" a many times. Please understand, I don't mean "better than" when I use the word. As a matter of fact gives these definitions for the word "different": not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar; not identical; separate or distinct. To be different is not "to be better than", just different. But different is what any follower of Christ is.

First of all, the Bible says we become new. That's different. We're taken out of darkness into His light. There it is again...different. We're born again...different. We're forgiven. BIG DIFFERENT! We're still in this world...but no longer are we "of" this world. Different. We are ambassadors for Jesus in the midst of this world. Different. We are to love our enemies and love people who hate us...different. I could ride this pony for a long, long time. But as you can see, the keyword is "different".

If you are a serious and genuine follower of Jesus your standards are...let me say it again...different. You are not any better than a "non-Christian"...but you are different. Your desire now is to please God. And your conscience is infused with the uncanny ability to feel the heart of God. This makes you different. Your standards are different.

The way you act is different. The way you talk is different. The way you think is different. Does that make you better than anyone? Absolutely not. But you are different, and your standards are different. To be a Jesus follower and not be different is to not really be a Jesus follower.

The world is actually craving a generation that will live by different standards...the standards of God. How can people be drawn to the same standards? But God's standards are different. God's standards are the highest standards. To live by God's standards will make one distinctly different. a follower of Jesus Christ let me ask you...are your standards different?

885536: How People Change How People Change
By Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp / New Growth Press

A changed heart is the bright promise of the gospel. When the Bible talks about the gift of a new heart, it doesn't mean a heart that is immediately perfected, but a heart that is capable of being changed. Jesus' work on the cross targets our hearts---our core desires and motivations---and when our hearts change, our behavior changes. It's amazing to watch people who once seemed stuck in a pattern of words, choices, and behaviors start living in a new way as Christ changes their hearts.

That Nasty 6-Letter Word...Change

I've been pondering something for a couple of days. Something everyone has to deal with, but most of us don't want to deal with it. No it's not our income tax return or a trip to the dentist for a cleaning or even worse...a root canal. It is change. Yes, change.

As a whole change is necessary to move forward in life. Chance involves our position. I know you've heard the old adage "being in the right place at the right time". That's what position is. Sometimes we need to reposition in order to move ahead or to even stand our ground. But in most cases repositioning requires change. For most people change is the direct opposite of comfortable! 

Change is necessary to be effective in whatever we do. If we do something a certain way without getting the desired results, perhaps we need to change the way we're doing what we're doing! My pastor always said, "If we do what we've always done, we will always have what we've always had!" That's speaks volumes to me. What we've always had might not be what God wants for us today! He is fresh, like a flowing river. He is always moving and wherever He moves life flows. 

The greatest roadblock to change, thus the roadblock to progress, is focusing on the past. Many folks have had wonderful pasts. Others however might want to forget some of their pasts. Looking back on "what we had" makes it impossible for you and me to acquire "what we need" to move ahead. Therefore we become stiff and brittle, not being pliable and resilient which is what we need to change. Focusing on "where I used to be" and how wonderful it was is in direct opposition to "where I am going" and how much more wonderful it could be. Notice I said "focusing" not remembering. There is a big difference.

Back a few years I knew some people through which a church was born. This happened in their own home. Over the years as the church grew these folks (as sweet as they were) always referred back to the days when the church was in their home. It's as if God could never top anything as good as that. The is where their focus was. It was hard for them to move beyond the days that took place back then. Everything from back then and forward was measured against those particular days and experiences.

I see this so much in people today. To them it seems as if it will never be as good as it was "back then". Their focus on the past has them blinded to the present and future. Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 3: 13a - 14, "...forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Please remember this..the goal is always ahead of you. It is never behind! God has so much in store for you, your family, and your church. But we must be willing to change in order move ahead to pursue it. Change may not be comfortable but it is vital! Stay the same and regress, or change and move forward! Remember forward progress is where your destiny lies, and change is necessary to move forward.

885536: How People Change How People Change
By Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp / New Growth Press

A changed heart is the bright promise of the gospel. When the Bible talks about the gift of a new heart, it doesn't mean a heart that is immediately perfected, but a heart that is capable of being changed. Jesus' work on the cross targets our hearts---our core desires and motivations---and when our hearts change, our behavior changes. It's amazing to watch people who once seemed stuck in a pattern of words, choices, and behaviors start living in a new way as Christ changes their hearts.

Are You Faithful?

Are you faithful? That's a vague question I know. Faithful to whom? Faithful to what? Faithful when, etc? But it is a question we must ask ourselves quite often.

We get a better understanding of the application of the word "faithful" when we look at what the dictionary says. Faithful: ( a.) Strict or thorough in the performance of a duty. (b.) True to one's word. (c.) Steady in allegiance or affection. (d.) Loyal, constant, reliable, trusted, or believed. Faithfulness is the quality and the characteristic of being faithful. 

Faithfulness is the key to success in any realm. Faithfulness says, "Not only will I commit, but I will stay committed!" Faithfulness says, "God is faithful, so I can be faithful." Some folks believe faithfulness is conditional. I'm so glad God doesn't think that. He's been so faithful to me and I don't really deserve His faithfulness. If God's faithfulness were conditional, even walking by faith would be futile, because some days He just wouldn't be there. But He is faithful (as the old Randy Stonehill song said), "Even when I'm not." 

Let's break down a few of those definitions above for faithfulness. Are you true to your word? Can people trust your word? Are you steady in your allegiance to God, your spouse, your family, your leader(s), your church, or employer? I'm just asking. Are you constant and reliable? Can you be trusted and believed? If you answered "yes" to these questions you are faithful...and you are a blessing to others!

Faithfulness is not hereditary, you must learn it and apply it. It must be cultivated and developed. "How can I develop and cultivate faithfulness?" you ask. Start with God as your example. Also look for humans that have developed faithfulness in their walk with Him. There's no doubt you will find faithfulness as a fruit of their life too. While there is a shortage of faithfulness among Christ-followers these days, there still are those who understand and walk in faithfulness. How do you notice them? Actually they stick out like a sore thumb!

Faithfulness always has as its target others. It is God's heart for people applied through people. Faithfulness is a major vehicle in which God's love is distributed to others. Faithfulness will cause folks to trust your character and to eventually trust God.

And finally, be faithful in the small things. The things that seem insignificant. The truth is those small things are not insignificant to the eyes of God. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much..." (Luke 16:10a) If you can be trusted in the small things, God considers you faithful in the big things. Remember, faithfulness (see definitions above) is a very important key to your success.

63103: Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey
By Timothy George / Vision Video

Shoemaker, botanist, translator, preacher, factory manager- William Carey was all these things, but he is best known as the father of modern missions. From his humble beginnings in England to his missionary work in India during the early 1800s, his devotion to the Lord touched the lives of thousands of people. An inspiring biography that will lead you to strengthen your own commitment to Christ.

Is Hell Real?

This post is a little on the heavy side. It is not my intent to scare or even offend anyone. Sometimes the truth can be disturbing, but all the time, the truth will set one free. (See John 8:32)

Many folks don't believe in Hell. Why is that? The most popular reason is that many believe God wouldn't create a place like hell. Or at least God wouldn't send people there. You've heard it before: "If God is so loving, why would He send anyone to hell?" God doesn't send anyone to hell. It is a choice people make. "Then He (Jesus) will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." The "accursed" ones referred to as goats here, are those who choose to reject God and His Son, Jesus. (Matthew 25:41)

The above verse makes it clear that hell, the lake of fire, is prepared for the accursed ones, and for the devil and his angels. Hell is also prepared for the antichrist (the beast) and his false prophet. (See Revelation 19:20) Hell is also prepared for death and hades, and anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. (See Revelation 20:14-15) God gives us the choice: heaven or hell. Jesus or not. Choose Jesus, get heaven. Reject Jesus, get hell.

So what is hell? Hell is a place. The Bible says hell is very, very hot. It is called the lake of fire. This lake burns with fire and brimstone, a form a sulfur. Yes, hell is hot...and hell is forever. Many preachers preach about hell fire and brimstone in judgmental fashion. Only it is not really judgmental. It is the passion coming from one who understands the seriousness of hell. Again, hell is not only hot...hell is forever.

The Holy Spirit impressed something upon my heart a few weeks back revealing another aspect of hell not mentioned very often. Hell is a place totally devoid of the the presence of God. The term "God forsaken" is taken to an almost unimaginable level. The first thing a person will do when they land in hell (besides yell "Ouch!") will be to cry out to God, "I was wrong! Help me Jesus!" But God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not answer them. Why? Because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not be there...forever. Hell is hot, hell is forever, and hell is completely devoid of the presence of God.

There will be eternal remorse, eternal heartbreak, and eternal regret. Over and over the cry for help and repentance will go up, but to no avail. Why? God is not there. It this cruel? No! Why? Because Jesus stands ready at this very moment to answer the cry of whosoever will call to Him! Your opportunity is today, not when it is too late. "Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION" (2 Corinthians 6:2b) This is what the grace of God is all about. Today is the day of salvation. Today you can choose to turn your life over to Jesus and not land in the lake of fire...hell. This is good news!

Jesus made it possible for you and me to avoid hell which is also referred to as the second death. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14) Jesus died a physical death and rose three days later making it possible for you and me to rise to Him in the resurrection. But He also died the "second death" making it possible for you and me to avoid the second death, the lake of fire. Jesus paid this price for you and me on the cross as He took upon Himself all the sin of the world. As He became your sin and my sin God could not look upon Him. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" God had not forsaken Jesus. The sin upon Jesus brought a separation between He and God. Jesus experienced this separation from God in your place. To choose Jesus today means to avoid the second death, total separation from God in the lake of fire later. Then it will be too late.

Myriads of people will not turn their lives over to Jesus today because they don't want to change or lose the life style they maintain. This is a lack of understanding of the concept of eternity. Your life on this earth is just a vapor compared to eternity. We must understand that the next life, whether in heaven or hell never ends. While those who have been there 10,000 years, singing praises in God's presence suddenly realize "We've only just begun", those who have been crying for mercy...unheard for 10,000 years will realize "we've only just begun". How tragic! My friend, hell is forever. The good news is heaven is forever!

God is full of grace and mercy. Those who call upon Him in sincerity now, will find that grace and mercy. No one has to leave this life without Jesus. Today is the day of Salvation. Perhaps today is the day of your salvation. If you are in the least bit concerned about your final destination, again which will be forever, check out the reality of knowing Jesus today. It begins with a simple prayer of repentance. And this wonderful relationship of grace and mercy lasts forever and ever!

380274: 23 Questions About Hell--Book and DVD 23 Questions About Hell--Book and DVD
By Bill Wiese / Charisma House

Did God create hell? Is it real or metaphorical? Can "good" people go there? Wiese addresses these and other burning questions in this companion to 23 Minutes in Hell. Offering a firsthand account of eternal punishment, he clears up misconceptions about God's character and shows that we are accountable for our own decisions. Includes DVD. 160 pages, hardcover from Charisma.

Don't Trip Over A Shopping Cart!

I enjoy rising early each morning to awaken the dawn with God's presence. The tools I usually use are Praise & Worship music and God's incredible Word. Nothing gets the day started like an appointment with Jesus. He's always there waiting for me!

This morning as I was meditating on God's Word some questions came to my mind: "How is God on the earth while in heaven at the same time?" The obvious answer is through and by His Spirit. Add to that the truthful fact that God is really, really big He's everywhere! Actually the presence of God has always been here on the earth and God has always been really, really big. Another question popped up in my mind: "How is it possible for Jesus to be here on the earth as Savior while at the same time being at the right hand of God in heaven?" You are probably thinking what you think is the obvious (if you can understand what I just said). By the Spirit of God. Of course this is true. But actually something else came to my mind. Something you and I need to ponder deeply.

Yes, Jesus is here by His Spirit. But since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 2000 years ago, Jesus is here through His body, the church. The church was born by the outpouring of the Spirit. The church is also empowered and led by the Holy Spirit. The church is the body of Christ. Jesus is the head. The church is HIS body. Listen to Ephesians 1: 22 - 23, "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Did you catch that? Paul said Jesus is the "fullness of Him who fills all in all." Those who have Jesus are filled with the fullness of all He is. Think about millions upon millions of folks filled with His fullness on this planet!

Jesus made the church His body for a reason. I am about to give a really weird analogy but I believe you will remember this one. Let's say your head and body were detached from one another. Or would you rather use me as an example? OK, let's use me. Let's say my head and body were detached. Let's say my head was in the car, but my body was in the supermarket. All I would be able to see and sense would be what was in the car or in the immediate vicinity. On the other hand my body would be pretty useless, hence very insignificant if it were walking around in the supermarket without a head. Not to mention a little scary. A body without a head would be banging in to the produce, tripping over carts, and falling into the dairy cooler. All the while having no purpose and thus accomplishing nothing. But when my head and body are reattached (great technology), I would then be in the supermarket having regained all of my faculties as well as my senses. I could now move about with purpose. I could now be effective. Of course, if you're like me you'd still need a grocery list.

Jesus is the head of His body the church Paul said. We're not talking about a vast ocean of believers here such as a body of water. We're talking about a body, just like yours with hands, feet, legs, and yes...a head. Paul further reiterates this in Ephesians chapter 5. Jesus, by His Spirit indwells those who are his on the earth. And those whom He indwells can by faith be empowered by this same Spirit through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Through the finished work of the cross, Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father as the head of His church on the earth. Through the finished work of the cross His church, which is His body is empowered to do the same things Jesus did when He walked on the earth over 2000 years ago. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." (John 14: 12) Jesus went back to the Father, sent the Spirit He promised, and established His church, the body of Christ in the earth. And His body is just as powerful as His head!

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are not insignificant. You are not alone. You have extreme purpose just as Jesus did when he walked the planet long ago. The Creator of the universe lives in and through you. You are part of the hands that healed in Jesus ministry. They still heal today. You are part of the feet that walked the shores of the sea of Galilee. They walk the entire planet today through His body, the church. You are the voice of the One who proclaimed the good news to whosoever would listen.

Jesus is here more today than He was 2000 years ago. How is that? He is here through His church. Don't forget, you are full of God's fullness because Jesus lives NOW in you. So get out there and live out loud for Jesus!


Will Jesus Return Soon?

Can you see what I see? Can you sense what I am sensing? It really doesn't take much to see and feel that we are living in very interesting times. If you are a student of the Bible much of what is happening in this world and in the heavens today is not really surprising. It's been prophesied, we've read about it for years, and now we are seeing it come to pass.

I am not an "end-time specialist" but since I am a student of the Word, and live in the end times, I can sense we are very, very near to the return of Jesus. It used to be very easy to "write off" world events as events that happened before and will happen again; saying that "history once again repeats itself". We must be very careful at this point not to assume that the world events of this time are simply history repeating itself. Instead, they are prophesies unfolding...before our very eyes. 

There are three major factors that reveal the return of Jesus is near. One is the fact that time seems to snowballing. I don't think anyone can deny that time is hurling forward at a rate like never before. God's time clock is ticking toward that time when the fullness of the Gentiles will be complete. (See Romans 11) When that point is reached, the New Testament Age (age of the church) will be finished. Are we in the last days? We've been in the last days since the Holy Spirit was poured out during the Feast of Pentecost 2000 years ago. We are now in the "latest" of the last days.

Another factor that indicates Jesus' return is near is technology. The development of technology doubles about every one and a half to two years. That is amazing? Just 25 years ago the cell phone was not even heard of. There is practically no (inhabitable) place on the face of the earth that has not been touched by the latest technology. People in third world countries, living on the streets, walk around using smart phones! Every day that passes, technology speedily advances...enabling the Gospel of Jesus to be proclaimed to every tongue, nation, and tribe. (Matt. 24:14), Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Technology is allowing us to do just that.

The third factor is the signs of the times. One sign is that darkness will increase. Paul, speaking about the judgment of the law versus the grace of God said, "Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more." In other words, the darker our world becomes, the stronger the grace of God is in the midst of it all. These last days are the most powerful of all times for the New Testament church. Followers of Christ must realize this and act accordingly. It's time to shine in the darkest of darkness! Many people will die without Jesus if we don't recognize the signs of the time we are in, and the power available to us to live out loud for Jesus.

(Matt. 24:36,44), "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." Yes Jesus says that only the Father knows the day and the hour. But that doesn't mean He couldn't come this week, or this month, or this year, or this decade. And tell me, can you really guaranty that He won't return this day or this hour? Jesus said the signs of the times would indicate to us that His return is near. In other words, He will communicate to us His return is near through the signs of the times. He said there would be signs in the heavens, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Speaking of these signs Jesus said, "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21: 28)

According to NASA and other experts, in the next couple of years we will see some very usual occurrences in the heavens involving the sun and the moon. The very interesting part is that these occurrences coincide with crucial Jewish feasts which take place in the Spring and Fall. And in the last 500 years, every time this has happened, major events took place that changed History.

My point is not to sound gloomy. And again, I am no "end times expert". My point is to stress the fact that things are changing and we must notice them. Jesus said things would happen before His return. He said certain signs would take place to alert us to His return. Even though we must always be ready for His return - He still warns us...just in case. This is grace!

Many believers don't actually believe Jesus will return in their life time. Even if He doesn't, is this any reason to live as if we don't think He will return? What if He does? Are you ready? Are you looking up? And what about the signs? Can you see what I see? Can you sense what I sense?

24381EB: Preparing for Jesus" Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope - eBook Preparing for Jesus' Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope - eBook
By A.W. Tozer & James L. Snyder(Ed.)

God's Will

I recently preached a message entitled "God's Will". Most of us, if not all of us want to know God's will for our lives. There are a few very simple keys to knowing His will for our lives and His church. My heart's desire is to encourage you with the preaching and teaching of God's Word. 

Due to the length of this message it is divided into two parts. Please set aside convenient time to listen to both parts. I believe you will be encouraged.

Some of the points made in this message:

  • In order to know God's will one must know God.
  • The more you know God the more you know His will.
  • When you know God's will your responsibility is to do it.
  • When you do God's will you bless God and become fruitful.
In this message I also speak of the reality of hell. The truth of what I share should be more than enough to motivate believers to share the love of Jesus with family and friends.

Thanks so much for listening to my podcast. Please feel free to share with others.

926393: Walking in the Will of God: Discovering the Grace and Freedom of His Plan for You Walking in the Will of God: Discovering the Grace and Freedom of His Plan for You
By Steve McVey / Harvest House Publishers

Are you looking for a foolproof formula for figuring out God's will? McVey says there's something better! Encouraging you to turn away from "rules" and "regulations" that distance you from your heavenly Father, he helps you form a grace-based relationship with God. Discover how to live a bold life based on God's trustworthy guidance. 176 pages, softcover from Harvest.

Your Infinite Capacity To Worship God

You and I were created to function as whole worshipers of God; to bring glory to our Creator. The capabilities are limitless because God created us. The truth is however, like our brain, we probably bump (at the highest) around 10% usage of our worship capacity! Why is that? Because we are not completely yielded to the Holy Spirit - not only in worship - but in our lives as well. Listen to what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit: "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:14) Jesus said the Holy Spirit will "glorify" Him. Your part and my part is to yield to Him so He can do just that...through us!  This is how we increase our capacity to the scale!

According to the Scripture, we are created to be radical, bold worshipers of our God. Worship should be our life, not just something we do periodically. Worship is not a segment of our life - it is our life!  It is what we are engineered and created to do. Please understand this; your capacity to worship God is directly proportional to the Holy Spirit's capacity to glorify Jesus.

When the early believers received the Holy Spirit, they were compelled (by Him) out into the streets. The first thing they did after being filled with the Spirit was worship God and proclaim His Word with boldness. The more they worshiped, the more they proclaimed! The more they proclaimed, the more people were drawn to Jesus. They were tapping in to the Spirit's capacity to glorify Jesus, and it changed the world!

Many of us are seeking success in our methods of worship. We should constantly be pliable and relevant to our culture when it comes to connecting with people. But the greatest Connector of all times - the Holy Spirit - brings an energy into our lives and into our worship that cannot be manufactured by man. And it cannot be duplicated by man. He brings it as He worships and glorifies Jesus in and through us. Heaven's energy permeates earth's realm.

For many folks worship can be rote, dry, and uninteresting. My suggestion is to seek Him for the fresh fire of His Spirit. He is here on the planet to bring amazing, overwhelming glory to Jesus. He will do it through you and any believer who is hungry for Him. Simply yield to Him. Press in to Him. He stands ready to return the fire to you and to your worship. Instead of worshiping at 10% capacity, your ability to worship will be unlimited and contagious! It will spread to others as Jesus intends it to. The church will no longer be scratching her head and wondering what we're doing wrong or what procedure can she try next to change things! Let me know what you think.

CD97976: Nothing Is Wasted (Double CD) Nothing Is Wasted (Double CD)
By Elevation Worship / Essential Worship

Catch the fire of the Spirit with this explosive collection! Dynamic worship leaders and powerhouse arrangements take you to new heights of worship as you listen to "Great in Us," "Be Lifted High," "We're Not Alone," "Unchanging God," "I Have Decided," "Open Up Our Eyes," "Let Go," "In Your Presence," the title track, and more. Two CDs (live and studio versions).

CD14589: Jesus Culture with Martin Smith: Live from New York Jesus Culture with Martin Smith: Live from New York
By Jesus Culture with Martin Smith / Daywind Music Group

Pairing Martin Smith's powerful songs of worship with Jesus Culture's signature call to bold praise, this album was recorded live in concert. Includes "Fire Never Sleeps," "Forevermore," "Pursuit," "Walk with Me," "Waiting Here for You," "Our God Reigns," "Song of Solomon," "Set a Fire," "Allelujah," "Holy Spirit," "Did You Feel?" "God Is Coming," and "I Belong to You." Two CDs.