Thursday, December 27, 2007

NEVER FIND on my New Year's Resolution list

New Year's resolutions are something we think about this time of year. We all have our past lists. Here are a few items that YOU WILL NEVER FIND ON MY NEW YEAR RESOLUTION list.

1. Gain 10 pounds. (This one comes pretty natural.)

2. Shave my head. (This one is happening without my assistance or approval.)

3. Give up Ice Cream. (No way.)

4. Sell my Harley Davidson. (This one makes me cry.)

5. Become a Muslim. (Ok, this one is just plain stupid. When your on the right path, the only path, why would you ever want to change that. Matthew 7:12-14, John 14:6)

6. Move to Alaska. (If God asked me I would but then . . . He would also have to shift the earth so that Alaska would become the new tropics with an average yearly temperature of 80.)

7. Stop eating beef. (NO Way - What's for dinner tonight? Yeah, you got it - BEEF.)

8. Give up my remote control and all the devices that it has power over. (And every man gasped in horror.)

9. Sell my home computer, disconnect my DSL and go back to actually writing and mailing letters to everyone. (Like a . . WHY)

10. Vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Now it is your turn. Send me your "NEVER FIND on my New Year's Resolution list" items.

Have a Great New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The more you have the more you want....

We had an interesting Sunday school class this week. Our lesson was about experiencing "God's deeper presence." Using lines from "Joy to the World" we began our discussion on three pre-conditions to having a deeper relationship with God.

The three pre-conditions to experiencing God's deeper presence are:

1. When WE HUNGER FOR GOD we experience God's deeper presence.

Matthew 5:6 MSG "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat."

Hunger is usually related to our desire to eat. It can be real or it can be nothing more than just a desire - a want to eat moment. Looking at all the food on a Christmas table can give you the desire to eat even if you don't really need to eat. The smell of food cooking will bring on the desire. However, hunger can also be for things like love or fellowship or warmer weather (sorry I don't like winter.). Hunger is a desire to fill a need. If you need God in you life you will go after Him, hunger for His presence. If you don't feel you have a need for God you won't. That is probably why we grow closer to God when we are facing a challenge. The good times seem to draw us away from God by removing our hunger for Him.

There is always an element of choice. They say that you always make time for the things that are important in your life. Matthew 6:33 NASB "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We used Revelation 3:14-21 to make our next two points.

2. To experience God's deeper presence we must INVITE HIM to RESIDE in our Lives.

Reside means to be present or to dwell permanently. Does God dwell permanently in our life?

3. To experience God's deeper presence we must INVITE HIM to Preside in our Lives.

Preside means: to occupy a place of authority, guidence, direction or control. Is God in control of your life?
So the question that was raised was: Do you allow God into every room in your house? From the living room to your closets, does God have free access to come in, look around and see what is going on. For most of us we do not let Him in EVERY room. We say we do but with closer examination we find that we do not. It could be small closest in the back hallway to the family room to the bedroom.
The scripture in Revelations says the Jesus stands knocking at our door. The question is will we open it and allow Him in.

One final note. A lady in our class, Dianne, said that the more you have of God, the more you want. The less you have of God in your life the less you want of Him. GREAT POINT. My wife said it is a proven fact that the more water you drink the more water your body wants. Spiritual law brought to light in the natural.

Psalms 42:2 NASB My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Never give up , Never Surrender.

I know that many of us have been through a lot this year. We have endured things that we never thought would happen to us. Death, sickness, unemployment, ice storms come at us and seem at times to not stop.

I am, like many of you, a person of faith. Faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ as my saviour, faith in God's Word. So when I go to God's word I read verses that promise deliverance from life's challenges. Challenge: that's a Christian word for troubles, problems and the miserable things that happen in life. Somehow we think if we use a word that seems milder than the event that we are attempting to survive it will be less difficult. I don't know, maybe it does work like that. But I find that is not always the case.

Faith is how you get through the rough moments in life. Faith in God because it is this faith that is based on the unmovable, unchangeable, all powerful standard. Faith in man will fail, faith in money will fail, faith in the USA will fail. Only faith in God can bring victory in the face of defeat. The face of defeat looks different at times. Sometimes it looks like diseases or unemployment or a car wreak or even damage to your property or home from an ice storm. Yes, defeat can look very different but the face of victory is always the same: GOD, the Almighty. He never changes.

Heb 13:8 NASB Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Les Brown, motivational speaker, once said, "Within you lies the power to seize the hour and live your dreams. Faith is the oil that takes the friction out of living. Faith will enable you to turn liabilities into assets and stumbling blocks into stepping stones. When you begin to have faith, your load will get heavy but your knees won't buckle, you'll get knocked down but you won't get knocked out. You've got to have faith if you are going to make it in life. You must believe in yourself and in a power greater than yourself, and do your best and don't worry about the rest. You must maintain faith and work as if everything depended on you and pray as if everything depended on God."

Great advice. God says this. Jer 29:11 NKJV For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Isa 55:8-12 NKJV "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. (9) "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (10) "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, (11) So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (12) "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

As the commander of the space ship in one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, would always say, Never give up, Never Surrender.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Preeminence of Christ

A number of year ago I was studying The Book of Hebrews. During my studies I picked up John MacArthur's commentary on the Book of Hebrews. The actual name of the book is, "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Hebrews." Excellent book. Now I don't agree with all of John MacArthur's theology. But I have to tell you I believe he was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote these words.

The Preeminence of Christ:
From “The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Hebrews By John MacArthur, page 9,10.

Someone once said the Jesus Christ came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of a women. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became Son of man that we might become sons of God. He was born contrary to the laws of nature, lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which he was born - and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence and had neither training nor education in the world’s schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential. In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood He puzzled the learned doctors. In manhood he ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all songwriters together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as he has. He never practiced medicine and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors have healed broken bodies. This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords and the healer of all diseases. Throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him and the grave could not hold Him.

As we approach Christmas Day 2007, let us remember that no gift can ever be as great as what God the Father gave us nor can any item be better than having Jesus as your saviour.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

When Winter Arrives......

Today winter has arrived in Tulsa. In Tulsa we get ice before we get snow, the joy of living on the edge of the weather fronts that pass through the mid-west. So winter has arrived with cold, freezing rain and dark - no sun. I am a sun person so when we have too many days without sun I can get down, not depressed but down. You can call it the blues, I guess. I hate winter. Hate is maybe too strong a word. Let's just say that winter is my LEAST FAVORITE time of the year. However, there are things to learn during winter and only during winter that are worth talking about.

First of all there are all kinds of winters in life. The "winter" when you can't figure out what is going on. Nothing is moving and you're not sure why. Then there is the "winter" when everything seems to go haywire. There are also economic winters, social winters and even health winters. Winters can bring disappointment, and disappointment is common to all of us.

WINTER always follows HARVEST. Therefore, we must learn how to handle difficulties; they always comes after opportunity.

James 1:2-4
v2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. v3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. v4 So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

We must learn to handle recessions; they come right after expansions. That isn't going to change. The big question is what do you do during winters in your life? Here are three suggestions.

1. You can get stronger;
Galatians 6:9 LITV But we should not weaken in doing good, for in due time we shall reap, if we do not faint.

2. You can get wiser;
Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB v15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, v16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. v17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

3. You can get better.

Remember that trio of words: stronger, wiser, better. The winters won't change, but you can."Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don't wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom." By Mr. Shoaff

And by the way, put on a sweater, start a fire in the fireplace, bake some cookies and remember spring will come. No matter how hard it snows or how cold it gets, Spring will come.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A couple of weeks ago we discussed in Sunday school what the angel actually said when he greeted Mary and told her that she was to give birth to a child. And the child was to be the Christ the saviour of the world. Here is the rest of story.

Luke 1:28-30 Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!" Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. "Don't be afraid, Mary," the angel told her, "for you have found favor with God!

Up to this point the angel spoke to Mary in such a way to calm her. I have never seen an angel, although, I have been in hospital rooms where I have felt the presence of a being that I could not see. The person I was visiting told me that was his angel, sent by God, to watch over him. I had no reason to doubt the person since I could indeed feel the ange'ls presence.

Then the angel proclaimed the four gospels -Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to Mary. Let me explain.

Luke 1:31 You will conceive and give birth to a son [The Angel with this statement said BEHOLD THE MAN - the theme of the Gospel of Luke] , and you will name Him Jesus. [He said with this remark, "BEHOLD THE SERVANT - the theme of the Gospel of Mark . Jesus means Jehovah is salvation, Saviour of Mankind, servant to do God the Father's will.]

Luke 1:32, 33 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. [BEHOLD YOUR GOD - the theme of the Gospel of John] The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!" [Behold your King - the theme of the Gospel of Matthew.]

In a few sentences the angel spoke the four truths in the four gospels. Jesus came into this earth as a man to experience life as we do. Jesus came as a servant to God the Father to do the will of the Father, to restore mankind to God so that we can, if we choose, have salvation, eternal life, a relationship with God and experience the presence of God for eternity. Jesus came as God because He is the Son of God. We cannot truly understand the hypostatic union of Christ, 100 % man and 100% God no more than we can truly understand the sacrifice, the love that God has for us to send Jesus to die and pay the price for what we done. Jesus came as KING - and His kingdom is not of this earth. His kingdom is in heaven but one day Jesus will return. The bible says with a shout of the angel and the sound of the trumpet He will come again. Not hidden in a stable. But in power and might and beauty unlike anything we have ever seen. OH boy. Are you ready? Well, are you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Time is . . . .

On Monday I put up outside Christmas lights. Not my favaorite job but my wife, Connie loves them. When she arrived home from work that evening she was very happy. She expressed true joy ans a children like appreciation for the work that I had dsone that day. That is why I love doing things like this for her.

. . . and on earth peace, good will toward men..

While my wife, Connie, was out shopping yesterday she ended up on the receiving end of what we have come to call - Road Rage. Definition of road rage is - violent behavior by a driver of an automobile, which can cause accidents or incidents on roadways. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving. In my opinion road rage is a selfish,out of control act by an individual. Selfish because road rage is all about me. Out of control because shows that a person in unable to restrain their anger or emotions because of a situation they don't like. Road Rage is a sad commentary of what our society has become.

We far to often think everything around us is all about pleasing me. We make no place for others or pay no attention to others just tying to walk out their life. Have you ever stood next to a person in a store on a cell phone talking as if no one was around them - forced into listening to their conversation. How about the mother who will doing with the crying baby she is carting around the store or the someone who is has blocked all the traffic in the parking lot so they can get a close parking space. I find this one interesting because they usually go into the store and walk around for hours shopping but somehow feel they are unable to walk an additional 50 feet to get into the store from a parking space. And you know maybe even mentioning these things is just another display of "all about me."

Philippians 2:3 NASB "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;" This is a difficult verse to live out. Even at Christmas, which is suppose to be all about buying gifts for others, we go about it almost selfishly. Pushing and shoving people to get the one gift that we MUST have. In a country blessed with much we seem to work hard at getting more, even at the expense of others.

So try something different. Don't push and knock people around to get that prefect gift. Believe God to get you the best deals and the perfect gifts. Help others to find what they are looking for. I believe that if we do this, God will see to it that everything we want to buy for someone else will be found and at a great price. Remember Christmas is all about giving so GIVE some space to the hurried person - the angry person - the worn out looking mom or dad with a bunch of kids. Give time - express love in some acts of kindness - look the other way when someone does you wrong. Take the high road. Because it is on the high road that you will find everything you really need at Christmas. Let's see it goes -Luke 2:14 KJV Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Adventure Continues

We all laugh at video's like this. The young because it makes fun of the generation before us. As youth we see this older generation as odd, certainly not plugged into the now, the today, the fast pace and up coming world we live in. Maybe we youth even see them as useless and a group of people that just need to step aside.

As the generation a video like this speaks of, we laugh because we can relate. We see ourselves and after we stop laughing, we start remembering the songs we listened to, political stands we took, thoughts of changing the world, millions of dollars we were going to make and the things we were going to do. Yes, we thought the older generation was odd, certainly not plugged into the now, the today, the fast pace and up coming world we live in. Maybe we even saw them as useless and a group of people that just needed to step aside. Sound familiar. And then life happened. Marriage with it highs and lows. Maybe the right person never came along. Career busyness, with all it's successes and failures. Children - those beautiful babies that grow up. Many high moments and some low - and all along the way the challenges of being a parent. Yes, life happens. And then one day someone creates a video about your generation and the process starts all over.

In the movie 'Rocky Balboa' there is a lesson we learn about life. The old fighter is ready to take on the young champion. As he sits in his room the night before the big fight, a young lady whom he has helped comes to wish him well. This young lady is single mom who needed help in life. Rocky gives her a job and attempts to become the father figure in her son's life that this young man didn't have and certainly needed. Rocky is scared siting in his dark hotel room. The young lady wishes him well and then says, 'Tomorrow you will show everyone that the last thing to age on someone is their heart."

I have met some old young people and some young old people. It really is a issue of the heart. Proverbs 4:23 MSG Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. This verse tells us that life starts and therefore it must also end in the heart. You are never too old to have vision, goals and aspirations. It is when you allow your heart to age that you will age and life will stop. Someone this last week told me the way to pick the age that you will die is to just retire (from life) 5 to 10 years earlier.

So let me ask you a few questions.

  • What goals have you set for yourself in the upcoming year?

  • What new adventures have you listed on your 2008 To Do List?
  • Who is on your radar as someone you will help move along in life?

  • What new thing have you decided you want to learn?

  • What character trait have you chosen to work on and improve?

  • What project have you outlined to start and maybe even complete by year's end?

When you stop growing you stop living. Growth is a function of the attitude of the heart. Real growth in life has little to nothing to do with age but it has everything to do with the heart. So examine your heart and see what age you really are.