Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" ...or at least it should be.  It's inevitable, when you consider the excitement, sugar, parties, and late nights with friends & family, that are added into our lives during the Holiday Season, at some point when you least expect it your child will lose it Big Time.  My Kids are no exception.

I am a firm believer in the power of knowing your kids and proactively anticipating their needs as a parent versus living on the edge of kid's potential chaos and overly reacting in the midst. Now, I know that this is an ideal that is often too lofty or even unrealistic in every life situation like during the Holidays, but I am confident that a simple shift towards being proactive from being reactive will help you and your kids reduce the number of meltdowns.

I read this quick article today from the Focus on the Family Bulletin, Dec. 2011 edition.  I found this to be a helpful reminder and hope you will as well.
Nap-Time Disruptions
Children have meltdowns at the most inconvenient times—like during a special holiday meal that happens to be scheduled at your child’s regular nap time. The question is, What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips for managing meltdowns:  
Keep calm. Irritation will only make your child more anxious. Take a deep breath and count to 10.
Meet immediate needs.  Determine what will bring your child comfort, such as food, drink, quiet, rest, a book or a toy.
Have an escape plan.  Sometimes it’s best to remove an exhausted, over-stimulated child from the situation.
Call in reinforcements.  A second pair of hands is helpful. This person can help you gather your gear, fix a plate of food, or just offer a smile and emotional support. —Jean Blackmer ~ Focus on the Family BULLETIN, Dec. 2011.
While every child is unique, there are some common developmental stages that affect the way children react to the world, and being aware of some of these common stages can help to make holiday planning simpler.  Read this article for more details on how you can Maintain Cheer Throughout the Holidays.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent Week 4: Promise Delivered

Promise Delivered
Isaiah 9:1-7; John 3:16-21

Opening prayer:
Purify us, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son, Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
When you love someone, you want to give them the best you can. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because love by its very nature is generous, and God is love! That makes him the most generous giver in the entire universe! In fact, Christmas is about celebrating this very fact - God’s generosity on full display for the whole world to see. God demonstrated his love for the world by sending His son. His love is the most generous act the world has ever seen. This is why Christmas is a time for us to show generosity. We give to others in response to the incredibly generous and loving God who sent His son, Jesus, to save us.

How are you showing generosity as an expression of love this Christmas? What are some ways that you as a family can demonstrate God’s generous love to a needy world? This Christmas, commit to making the holidays more about giving than receiving. Give generously and lovingly so that all those who receive from you might glorify God for Christ's sake.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,

And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty
   will accomplish this.

Family Activity:
Christmas is coming.  Ask God to give you ideas about how or what you can give to someone else.  Think creatively about what you can do for a neighbor, a stranger or even another family member.  Then do something in the name of Jesus without expecting anything in return – that’s true giving.  Do something together so that the busyness of these days doesn’t overwhelm your good intentions.   

Child’s Prayer:
O Wisdom, holy Word of God, Jesus Christ, all things are in your hands, come and show us the way to salvation.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Joy to the World, by Nat King Cole
O Holy Night, by Chris Tomlin
Silent Night, by Andy Williams

Dec. 25 – Christmas Day – A Story
Luke 2:1-40   Matthew 2:1-12

Family Activity:
Join the family of God at Community Fellowship to Celebrate and Worship the New Born King together at 11:00 AM!

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Various Christmas carols - WOW Christmas 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Week 3: Promise made to a King

Promise Made to a King
2 Samuel 7:8-17; Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11; Philippians 2:1-11

Opening prayer:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are burdened by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
Imagine entering into the grand throne room of the King.  May the words of your mouth reflect the intent of your heart by pleasing Him with this refrain:

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

This week, let’s focus on the promise that God made to David, who was declared by God to be a man after His own heart.   God’s promise to David came from Nathan, the Prophet. David was not allowed to build a house (a temple) for God, but God promised to build a house (a kingly dynasty) through David, and this house will never fall, according to 2 Samuel 7:16.  “Your house will always stand, and your throne will be established forever,” was the definite promise. From that time on, the people of Israel firmly believed the royal line of David had a lasting place in God’s plans for Israel and his monarchy would never collapse.

The Messiah, the anointed one was to be a descendent of King David.  He would restore Israel to a position of prestige once more among the nations. In the light of Christ’s coming, we see that:
· David was to have a son to succeed him and establish his kingdom.
· This son (Solomon) would build the temple instead of David.
· The throne of his kingdom would be established forever.
· The throne would not be taken away from him even though his sins justified punishment.
· David’s house, throne, and kingdom would be established forever.

Let us consider what is wrapped in this promised gift.  God established that through King David a greater King would come and reign forever.  This King became the emphasis of our adoration and worship.  No longer would God’s people need to focus on a place of worship to enter into God’s presence to worship, but through this magnificent, eternal King we are able to worship and adore Him personally.

As you go about your busy week, practice entering into true worship and adoration of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, our King of Glory.  Carve out some time to do this as a family.

Family Activity:
As you and your family prepare for Christmas, have each member of your family take a blank piece of paper with some crayons or markers and create their own “Vision of the meaning of Christmas”.  This may be the start of a new family tradition so that you can trace the evolution of your family’s artistic expression of what Christmas is all about.

Child’s Prayer:
O Key of David, Jesus Christ, King of all nations, the gates of heaven open at your command, come and show us the way to salvation.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Here I Am to Worship, by Passion Worship Band
King of Glory, by Chris Tomlin
The First Noel, by Johnny Mathis

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Advent Week 2: Promise Given

Promise Given
Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:12-14, 16:20

Opening Prayer:
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and put an end to our sin, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Devotional thought:
There will come a time this Christmas when you will catch a whiff of something baking and that smell will make you hungry.  There are so many Christmas traditions that revolve around foods.  We pass down family recipes, make special Christmas cookies or holiday treats, or try to figure out what to do with that fruit cake we’re given every year.  What are your family traditions with food? 

In the Beginning of God’s story, we see right away that God created Adam and Eve with a hunger for relationship with Him.  We all have the desire within us for relationship with God, our Creator.  He instructed Adam and Eve in the Garden to not eat from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  Unfortunately, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, falling for and insatiable lie that it wouldn’t fill them up,  so instead of satisfaction, they immediately felt shame and sadness.  For the first time, there was something wrong with their relationship with God, their Creator and friend.  Sin entered the story and separated them from God.

God had made a promise, and God always keeps his promises.  In Genesis 3:15, He promised a coming Savior who could satisfy that aching hunger.  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (NIV)  From that day on, God continued to remind His people of His promise to ready the people for the coming of the promised Savior, Jesus Christ.

Just as we prepare our kitchens and the tastes of our Christmas traditions are anticipated, we should prepare our hearts for the celebration of the fulfillment of this Promise given in the garden.  How are you preparing your heart? What are some areas of your life that need to change so that Christ can be more visible? Are there some patterns of behavior and attitudes that need to be cleaned up? This is why Jesus came; to fulfill the Promise, defeat sin and death and to transform you from the inside out. During this week of Advent, release the grip that sin and self has on your heart by receiving the Savior afresh.

Spend some time as a family confessing any sinful thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, and then practice true repentance, which is embracing forgiveness and turning from sin to God.

Family Activity:
Pull out a favorite Christmas cookie or holiday treat recipe and make, bake and eat it together as a family.  Be sure to make enough to share with someone else, too.

Child’s Prayer:
O Promised One of Israel, Jesus Christ, Redeemer for every heart, come and save your people.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
O Little Town of Bethlehem by Steven Curtis Chapman

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Advent Week 1: the Light of Hope

the Light of Hope
Isaiah 40:1-11, 31; 1 Peter 4:6-11

Opening Prayer:
Almighty God, help us by your grace to live in the light of hope brought to us when your son Jesus Christ came to this earth as a baby in great humility.; So that someday, when he comes again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to eternal life; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Devotional Thought:
There is something fantastically beautiful that happens this time of year.  It is seen in the eyes of children when they see the lights of a Christmas tree for the first time.  I remember when our oldest child was only 10 months old.  While she was taking a nap one day her mother and I decorated our family Christmas tree.  After she woke, we brought her downstairs so she could see all the Christmas lights.  She literally gasped and her eyes grew so big, and with one single finger she began to touch each light she could reach; never losing her wide-eyed awe.  Each year, decorating and lighting the Christmas tree sparks beautiful moments for our family.

There is hope in light.  Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and we celebrate the hope of Israel and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ by the lighting of a candle.  Be encouraged to walk in the Light of Hope this Advent Season.  We walk not in the overly simplistic hope of optimism, but rather in the Light of Hope that is found in living your life with a sense of purpose, knowing that we walk in the presence of the living God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. With that sense of purpose, we light the first candle of Advent.

We are called to not only look forward to the coming of Christ, but also “speed its coming” according to Henri Nouwen.  While God will send His Son in His time and on His terms and not ours, we must work hard by walking in the Light of Hope to quicken our Christ’s return. Clearly, our actions make a difference. Read 1 Peter 4:6-11.  In a mysterious way the new heaven and earth depend on what we do. We continue to hope in God's promise that Christ will come again, and our lives should not be passive, but active.  Thank you, God, for the Light of Hope for it will spark a difference in our everyday lives. 

Family Activity:
As you and your family prepare for the Christmas, Turn out all the lights in the room, and then light a candle or flip on a flashlight.  Then as a family and using different volumes say, “Good News, Jesus, the Light of the World is coming!”  Begin thinking and talking about someone with whom you can share the light of Hope this season. 

Child’s Prayer:
O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, Light of the World, Savior to all peoples, come and dwell among us.

Songs for Worship at Home: 
Great Light of the World, by Bebo Norman
Marvelous Light, by Charlie Hall 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

8 Reasons Why Single Men Should Work in the Church Nursery | Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington and is one of the world’s most-downloaded and quoted pastors. His audience—fans and critics alike—spans the theological and cultural left and right. He was also named one of the “25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years” by Preaching magazine, and his sermons are consistently #1 on iTunes each week for Religion & Spirituality with over 10 million of downloads each year.

I believe that it is extremely imprtant for men to be actively involved in Children's Ministry as does Pastor Mark.  He posted this on his blog this week.

8 Reasons Why Single Men Should Work in the Church Nursery | Pastor Mark Driscoll: (entire blog post)

1 - It helps you learn what Jesus meant by child-like faith

When you tell a kid that Jesus walked on water, they don’t defer to Hume and enlightenment presuppositions about the miraculous. They say, “Yeah!” and their eyes get big because they believe what the Bible says.

2 - It helps you learn about God as Father

When you interact with kids, you are reminded that to God you are just a kid and that you really need your Father. Every guy, including the one in a suit making more money than he can ever spend, is just a Fudgsicle-faced kid to the Father.

3 - It opens up your heart to children

This causes you to view such things as sex and women differently, less selfishly, and more biblically.

4 - It helps you pick a wife who will be a good mom

When you hang out with kids, you realize you need to marry a woman who is more interested in building a good legacy than just having a good time.

5 - It helps you learn how to be a good father

Some guys are afraid, repelled, or ignorant of kids. Get over your fears and prejudices by hanging out with someone else’s kids a few hours a week, and learn how to interact with kids well.

6 - It’s important for kids without a dad to have godly, male investment in their life

Young boys without a dad need the godly investment of a man. Young girls without a dad need a godly man’s loving encouragement. And the single moms really appreciate godly men investing in their kids.

7 - It’s a good place to meet a nice gal

Single guys may not know this, but nice, single gals who love Jesus and want to marry and become a mom someday are working in the nursery. That’s like fishing in a trout pond if you’re a single guy. And the single moms dropping off their kids should be considered for marriage too. After all, Jesus’ mother was a single mom until Joseph married her and adopted Jesus.

8 - Jesus did

Our God came to earth as a single guy and hung out with kids. They loved him. They didn’t crucify him like the religious folks. If you want to learn about Jesus and become more like him, spend more time with kids like he did.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Things: Addressing Fear as Parents

Kids love the treats that come with Halloween—but the tricks may leave them feeling unsettled or even fearful. As parents let's aim to help our children find a balance between tricks and treats.

Get more of Dr. Maier's practical tips on marriage, parenting and relationships

Friday, September 09, 2011

Lost & Found - Luke 15

Sermon from Sunday, Sep 04, 2011


Losing something, someone or getting lost is often very frustrating and traumatic until that something or someone is found.  Pastor Joel Sisson will ask you to consider, "What if we all are actually living in a practical state of being lost?"  By the way we live out our lives and relate with our God, we may forsake our relationship with God and in the process lose our way.  Jesus tells 3 parables in Luke 15 that illustrate this and you may discover that you need to be found today.

Listen Now:

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spiritual Imprinting

This Summer, I have been reading & listening (audio-book) my way through Organic Church by Neil Cole.  In this book, he draws the connection between something that happens in nature among animals like ducks and geese and in the Church among people - Imprinting.  Imprinting's best-known form is filial imprinting, in which a young creature acquires several of its behavioral characteristics from its parent. He references the movie, Fly Away Home, and how there are times when the young may imprint on the wrong thing.  Unfortunately, the church has at times misguided a new disciple by allowing him/her to imprint on something or someone other than our Creator God and Jesus Christ.

This made me think about the Natural Imprinting that takes place within the home.  In child development, the term is used to refer to the process by which a baby learns who its mother and father are. This process begins in the womb, when an unborn baby starts to recognize its parents' voices,[1] and then continues when a child reflects the speech patterns, mannerisms, gestures, humor and character traits of the parents.

I believe strongly that Spiritual Imprinting also takes place in the home during the early development of a child.  As a Parent, I must recognize that my children are observing, imprinting and reflecting my own spiritual behavior.

I was asked recently, "How do I pass along a love for the Bible to my children?"  What a great question!  As parents, we want so desperately to pass along what we know "is Best" for our children in every area of life.  As we live out the every moments of our lives according to Deut. 6:5-7, we must intentionally display our own spiritual behavior so that our children can imprint properly.  We want our children to Love God and His Word, to remain in continual communication with God through prayer and respond to God's Word in loving Obedience because that is what "is Best".  So consider how much you as parents and leaders in your home and church demonstrate a love for God's Word, for Prayer, and to Obey God? Your children are observing and imprint on your love no matter the quality of that love.

It is so important that we practice reading God's Word around and with our children.  Pray out loud for more than just the meals, and invite our children to participate with us in prayer.  Above all, we must be intentionally obedient to God and other authorities, and when we fail, accept responsibility, seek forgiveness through confession and repentance, and embrace restoration through the blood of Jesus Christ by living out the reality of the Gospel because our children are imprinting on your Spiritual Behavior.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Jesus: Faith Like A Child

Jesus Said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”Mark 10:14-15

I was looking through my Notes App on my iPhone, and found a note that I had written about my youngest son, Drew.  It was written on Oct. 6, 2009,
MY JESUS: Faith Like A Child.
Drew (2 1/2 years old) is now referring to the people he loves as "My Josie (sister), My Benji (brother), My Momma, My Dadda, etc. 
His expressed love is personal and significant to him!  What a great reminder that our Love should be expressed like a child for our Savior  - Personal and Significant.  "My Jesus! I Love You!"
When was the last time you intentionally came to Jesus to feel His embrace of love, safety and security, and tell Him specifically, "I Love You, My Jesus!"?  Tap into your inner child and express your personal and significant love to Him today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heart & Soul Service

Joshua 22:5

English Standard Version (ESV)
5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." (emphasis mine)

I am struck with what Joshua did not say about how he wanted the tribes of Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh (and us today) to serve.

Typically we think of service today in terms of someone like a Restaurant Server, or a Customer Service Rep, or a person we employ to perform an agreed service, or even a project in ministry in which we plan and implement service.  In these cases, we cannot help but use our Hands, Feet, Voices or even our Strength to serve. 

ut Joshua doesn't say "Serve with your both your hands and both your feet or all your voice or all your strength."  He specifically says that we are to serve with ALL your Heart and ALL your Soul.

I am certain that our service to God must be motivated by our Love and Passion and not by our guilt, obligation and duty.

So what is driving your Service?  Your Heart (love) and Soul (passion)?  Or your Guilt, (hands) Obligation, (feet) or Duty (strength)?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Pancakes

A couple of weeks ago, I felt that it was time to shake things up a bit for breakfast.  I wanted to make some pancakes, but not just any pancakes.  I needed to make something new!  I looked in the pantry and my eyes stopped at the Peanut Butter.  YES, Peanut Butter Pancakes!

So, I took out the box of Aunt Jemima Original Dry mix (the Wheat would work as well) and followed the instructions on the box.  Then added in:
  • 1/3 cup Natural Jif Peanut Butter (or your favorite peanut butter)
  • 2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
    ** you may need to add more liquid (I had to splash some milk in)
Here are some variations and add-ins that we came up with:
  • Peanut Butter chips - Double Peanut Butter explosion
  • Chocolate chips - Reese's
  • Banana w/ bacon - Elvis. 
  • Top with your favorite Jelly/Jam - PB&J
Give them a shot! Be Creative!  My Kids LOVED them, and they loved creating their own version with the Add-Ins!  Having fun in the kitchen as a family is a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

If you come up with a new variation, let me know!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What's your Philosophy of Parenting?

I was recently asked this question: "What is your philosophy of Parenting?" Honestly, I had to take a minute to review how my wife and I actually parent our children to discover the purpose behind our practice. Parenting intentionally has been our goal from the beginning, but being able to articulate a philosophy behind our practice was something that required some thought.

First let me start with the ideal. I believe that parenting works best when both dad and mom work together in unity, and when the marriage is vital, intact and growing. As parents truly step into their God given roles based on Deut. 6:5-7, they model a Biblical relationship with each other with oneness in their influence, teaching and discipline of the children in the home. Parents are to grow their children to maturity in every area of life – physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and broken marriages and families are an increasing reality. The first step to being a better parent is to work on your marriage.

That being said, I have had many opportunities to interact with single parents. Most are well aware and often remark that single parenting is hard and they often feel they are at a disadvantage. If you are a single parent, remember that you are loved deeply by God. He cares about you and He extends His grace to you and your children when you commit your role as a parent to Him.

Whether parenting with a spouse or alone, all of us need God’s grace to cover our inadequacies. Parenting is never about perfection. It is a balancing act between discipline and grace. It is about trial and error and developing real, meaningful relationships with our kids. It is about modeling for our kids a real relationship with our Heavenly Father – forgiving and being forgiven, being human and real, yet pursuing holiness. All of us need to tap in daily to God’s perfect wisdom and strength as we navigate this path to raising whole, healthy, well-balanced Christ-loving disciples. But there are also a few ideals or strategies that will help us achieve this goal. Here are some that define our parenting philosophy:

  • Children are a gift from the Lord, but they are ultimately His – not ours. We have been entrusted with them for a time, and we are to invest ourselves in their development with intention and purpose. 
  • Our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father is critical – and comes first in our lives. This pursuit of holiness and deeper relationship continually feeds our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to each other as we seek to make the best decisions and lead our family well. 
  • Our marriage is the center of our family, with the children as supporting characters. Our children do not run or control the family (i.e. they eat what the family is served; they do what is best for the family according to the standards that we as parents have set, they attend the church where we serve God and His people, etc.) We make a strong effort to not allow them to dictate to us or manipulate us to get their own way. 
  • We have high expectations of behavior for our children (developmentally appropriate) while at the same time; we encourage and create opportunities for them to just be creative, expressive kids who love life in a big way.   
  • We intentionally address heart issues with our kids as opposed to simply reacting to behaviors. We are students of each of our kids as individuals and realize that staying “in tune” with their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental development takes work and focus. 
One of our favorite things as parents is seeing our kids reveal the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Both Josie and Benji have received the gift of Salvation God has offered to them through Jesus Christ. And it gives my wife and me much joy to see evidence of their growth as believers. Look for the spiritual fruit in your kids’ lives and then celebrate it as a family.

I feel like it is important for parents to be connected with strong Biblical parenting authorities. Below is a short list for your benefit:
So what is your Parenting Philosophy?

Guarding Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley from Michael Smalley on Vimeo.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Have you ever been in a situation when your kids have used your own words against you?

Recently, my wife and I were engaged in a fairly serious conversation over coffee during one of my days off.  My youngest son emerged from the basement and sat by me at the kitchen table.  He began to play his DS (Lego Star Wars, I believe) while we were talking.  At some point in our conversation, I said, “… I just don’t think I can do it anymore … I think I’m done…”  My son, without looking up, spoke right on cue: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”  His words halted our conversation.  I’m pretty sure he had no idea the context of what we were discussing, but we heard him loud and clear: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”

I’m not sure when it started.  Probably while we were wrestling, pillow fighting or maybe when we were playing Star Wars where Darth Vader and/or Darth Maul (my boys) wanted me (a Jedi Master, of course) to surrender to the Dark Side, but I began to impress those very words into my children’s lives: “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”   As a Father, I want my children to be bold yet full of grace, strong yet teachable, confident yet humble, and to always fight for what is right and for those who cannot fight for themselves.   When life gets tough (and it does), I want them to remember that giving up or giving in is not an option.  We work hard through the struggle and the pain because rightly focused determination will only make us strong, well balanced individuals that reflect the likeness of Christ.  After all, He never gave up! He never surrendered! —He fully accomplished His purpose of obedience to the death so that we may have life—He finished well. 

As a parent, I have the awesome privilege of speaking virtue into our kid’s lives.  On that rare occasion when they voice those virtues back at me, I want to listen intently and take truth to heart.  I honestly didn’t expect to listen to my own words from the voice of my four-year-old son, but I’m glad I did. 

Perhaps you need to do as I did.  I opened my Bible to read:
  • Psalm 139:1-24.  God reminds me that He created me, He sees me, and He leads me along the path of everlasting when I allow Him to do so. 
  • Philippians 3:13-15.  Paul reminds me that I must strain forward and press on to accomplish God’s call on my life.
  • Galatians 6:8-10.  I will reap what I sow!  Lord, help me to be a parent that sows the good seeds of the Spirit into the hearts of my children.   It is in that truth, I have the strength to “Never Give Up and Never Surrender!”
Take a few moments to pray through these Scripture passages, and find strength and encouragement in the reality that even when the going gets tough, you can rise up to “Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ripple Effect

One of my all time favorite things to do in life is get away deep in the northern woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and take a walk along the dirt road that leads to a small foot bridge that over looks Piatt Lake to the west and the Lagoon to the east.  On a calm, sunny day when the water is like a sheet of glass, it is easy to catch a glimpse of a water bug skimming along the top of the water, a turtle popping out for a sun bath or a fish jumping to crest the surface.  This is creation in all of its beauty!  These actions will produce a ripple, a disturbance, in the calm of the water spanning in all directions.  This last summer my kids and I spent hours in this spot watching the water for these things, and before long we were doing what comes natural.  We picked up stones and sticks, and threw them in to make our own ripples.  It was effortless to cast a stone and then hypnotically watch the ripples move across the water.

Recently in Japan, we have been reminded just how devastating ripples can actually be when the force causing the ripple and the size of the wave out-scale its surroundings.  The whole world can be affected.

Have you considered the Ripple Effect?

In Joshua 7, Joshua and the Israelites experienced a pretty dramatic ripple effect.  One of the instruction that God had given them as they pursued victory over Jericho was to set a side all the spoils to Him.  No keeping any gold, silver, jewels, or clothing for themselves!  All of it was to go to God.

Can you picture the setting?  Israel was enjoying the moment.  They once again witnessed the amazing power of God and the continued fulfillment of His promises in the victory.  But one man throw a stone of trouble.  Achan looked at the spoils,wanted what he saw and stole from God!

Next, Israel was headed into another battle with a lesser power in the city of Ai.  Israel sized them up and confidently attacked only to be soundly defeated because the Lord was very angry with the Israelites because of Sin in the camp! (Joshua 7:11)

The small decisions of one man rippled out to affect the condition of an entire nation.  Men died in battle that day resulting in wives without husbands, children without fathers and mothers without sons.  More importantly a nation now had a holy God who's anger was set against them.  Achan, his family and a nation would now have to suffer the consequences in the Valley of Achor (Trouble).

Now consider the Ripples that your life may be creating.  Are you throwing stones of trouble?  (Joshua 7:26)

I am concerned that we all too often steal from God when we look at life selfishly, believe and repeat the lies of temptation and hide sin deep in our hearts much like Achan.  These ripples of trouble are devastating!   The choices we make in our lives affect more people than just ourselves.  Beware of the temptation to rationalized your sins by saying they are too small or too personal to hurt anyone but you.

Get Up!  Purify yourself! (Joshua 7:13) Today you can experience the peace of God that comes through the cleansing power of confession and repentance so that your life will produce ripples of peace and love.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Being God's Servant

John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am,
my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  NIV

Here Jesus lays out the reality that if you want to be about Serving Him then you must Follow Him.  They go hand in hand.  If anyone should know, it would be Jesus.  He is the consummate example of Service, Humility and Obedience as seen in Philippians 2:5-8.  Jesus humbled himself, took on the form of a servant and became obedient to God in all things till death on a cross.

We are to be as Jesus is a Servant, Humble and Obedient.  Matthew 20:27-28 describes Jesus’ intentions for coming to earth by coming to serve and give His life as a payment for humanity's debt to sin and death.

What does Being God’s Servant look like?  It may look a little different than you think initially.  Consider the picture below. 

In Henry Blackaby’s book Experiencing God, he describes his understanding of being a servant God is more like the Potter and Clay imagery found in Jeremiah 18:1-6.  Clay is to be useful by being moldable and once it is formed into a vessel then it must remain in the Potter’s hand for His use.

As Servants of God, we must allow God to mold us into whatever He desires and then remain available for the Master’s use.  Servants can do nothing on their own or in their own strength. Even Jesus knew this.  In John 5:19, He said that He could do nothing on His own and in John 15:5 He transfers that ability to do nothing on to us by stating that we can do nothing without Him. These words should mean something to you if you have been guilty of trying to do something in your strength. 

As Servants of God, we are the vessels that He creates to accomplish His desires and plans.  He molds us and we get to be available to be used by God to do great and mighty things for God.  Servants of God allow God to work and God to get all the glory.

I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:16-39.  Take some time to read how God’s People had turned from God to the worship of Baal and it took a Servant of God to challenge the false prophets to a public showdown of faith and worship.  Elijah was out numbered 850 to 1, but Elijah was created (molded) for this moment.  He was willing to let God work through him to do something amazing for His Glory.   Elijah obeyed God and God rained fire from heaven and God consumed the gallons of water and the sacrificed offering.  In the end, God did a mighty work through his Obedient Servant and there was no doubt where the power came from – GOD!

Consider how you lived out your life this week.  Were the words you spoke, the places you went, the actions you took, and the attitudes you expressed characterized as a Servant of God in Humility and Obedience?  How have you specifically Obeyed God (available to let God work through you) this week?

If you are having difficulty in finding specific ways in which you obeyed God this week, then perhaps the outflow of your life has been a result of devout service to Self, Sin or Something or Someone other than God.  If this is true, I suggest you confess and allow God to restore you to your rightful place of service to the one True Master and embrace His Honor according to John 12:26.

May the Master Potter be allowed to shape your life and use you abundantly this week for His Glory!

The IDEAL Family or REAL Family?

I Love this Family!

BUT, TV, Media, U-verse is a poor (sad) alternative for strong Biblical Parenting for our families.  This video is funny because it is such a distorted picture of what actually happens in the home and around the dinner table with our families.  As a Parent, I realize that I am the major Spiritual Influencer for my Family. It is my responsibility (really my pleasure) to raise, guide and influence my family to be real, in a real world.

Remember the Ideal Family is NOT Fake like the one in the Video, but Real with Real issues.  A Real Family is influenced for Christ by the Parents first and then the Church to deal with conflicts, embrace sadness and hurt, seek forgiveness, forebear much, respect appropriate boundaries, obey authorities, follow instructions, serve others first,  and intentionally love each other above all things so that Grace, Peace,  Hope and Joy prevail.

Be that Intentional Parents!
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Friday, February 25, 2011

Experiencing God’s Will

John 4:34, “My food is to do the Will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His Work.”  NIV

For Jesus doing the Will of God was more important than anything else!  Seriously Anything!  Even the very things that is necessary for life such as Food, Water and even Sleep.  I have to ask, “Are you that committed to do the Will and Work of God?”

Ok, so this is a toughie!  Have you ever felt like you have absolutely no clue what God is doing let alone what He wants you to do in order to follow and do His Will?  I have been there recently.  One thing I found was that I was not asking God the right questions.  My questions were selfish and in a way demanding that God in His Divine power bend His Will to meet my need/want/desire/purpose.  But that is not how God operates.  I must submit or bend my will to join God where He is working.

Once you know God’s Plan and Will then you can adjust your life to Him and His purposes for it.  He has a plan and purpose for your life and it is based on what He is doing in you.  “What is God’s Will?”  So ask God to reveal his will to you in a very personal loving way. 

Henry Blackaby says, “Don’t just do something” just to be doing something.  I have this running joke (saying) with my wife and kids, “There is no benefit in flailing!” The old NIKE mission statement of “Just Do It” has penetrated all of us and often we think that if we just start doing something for God then we’ll feel closer to him and we will obviously be doing His will.  But if we are just doing something without a purpose, we flail - having no or little benefit to God’s Work and His people and using up all our strength and resources in vain.

Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing!”  You see, we sometimes miss the first and most important step in doing God’s Will – Being with God, and Growing a Love Relationship with God.  God wants all of us to experience a greater knowledge of Him in every area of our lives.  When we allow Him to guide us and work through us then He will do great things through us.

God is absolutely trustworthy!   If you are concerned about knowing and doing God’s Will like I am, then remember that God is more interested in your Love Relationship with Him than He is about what your work ethic for Him. As God then fills you with His Loving presence, He will guide you to do the great things He has planned for your life.  Jesus is the Way and when you follow His leadership one day at a time, then your life will produce much fruit because you will be doing God’s Will.

Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  All we have to do is:
·         Follow God’s leading one day at a time
·         Keep Following when He doesn’t give out all the details
·         Follow  Jesus’ lead as the “Way” through this world. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This last week I was reading Joshua 4:1-24. It is the account when God stopped the Jordan River and all the Israelites walked across to the Promised Land on dry ground. After God did that amazing thing, He had Joshua choose 12 men to get 12 stones and construct a memorial.

What are the major Spiritual Events (when God did something amazing) in your life that you can remember?

I took an afternoon one day, and sat in my office to remember mine.  When we take the time to remember, something amazing happens.  We draw closer to the One we remember and the events and circumstances that took place with that One.  In other words, we strengthen our connection and relationship.

Here are a few Memorial Words that may help you Remember the spiritual events in your life.
  • Birth - On your birthday, God gives you life!  Consider the incredible truth in the fact that God created you for a purpose on purpose to be about living His purpose.
  • Salvation - God gives you Jesus and new life!  It is through the life, teaching, blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we can truly experience New Life and live that life fully.
  • Forgiveness - God gives you a second chance!  If you have ever realized that you are a sinner and flawed in every way, then you know that you need the cleansing power of forgiveness.  Face it we have all messed up at some point, but what God freely offers to anyone seeking is a fresh, clean restart.  A second chance to live for what is right.
  • Calling - God gives you purpose and direction!  Our lives are to be defined and guided by a Love for God, a Love for Others and the expressions of that Love through the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I love the fact that He knows you and wants you to join His team because He created you to do something amazing with your life for Him.
  • Reward - God gives out the blessing of rewards - now and in the future!  Someday He will ask you to give an account of how your life was lived.  When that happens, we will all have to stand before Him and remember.  Don't you want to remember the Faithfulness, Righteousness, Holiness, Love and Obedience that has been actively expressed throughout your life?  I do!
Take time this week to remember and embrace God who is doing amazing things in your life!