Monday, December 12, 2011

Make the most of it...

It's amazing how fast a year can speed through our lives. Does anyone realize I am writing this blog just 13 days before Christmas? And if I remember correctly just seven days after comes a new year. Unbelievable.
Paul (the apostle) told us to make the most of every opportunity. How do you slow the opportunities down long enough to make the most out of them? They keep flying by. Just last night I experienced one of the greatest opportunities to date in my work with the great Bethel church in Tampa. We celebrated Christmas with various arts sharing the wonderful story of God's plan for our salvation. With over 800 people in attendance, I personally had the privilege of inviting our guests to have the great gift of Christmas, Christ himself. After asking them if they knew what God wanted for Christmas, I shared with them it was their lives. Many responded. It was awesome. Pray with us as we continue to reach out to the precious friends and invite them to become family.
How about you? What are you giving God for Christmas? Make the most of it...

Monday, October 24, 2011

daily bread

in a prayer we often call "the Lord's prayer" we find a phrase He teaches us to pray. This phrase is give us this day our daily bread. A great friend in the ministry shared in a meeting last week about this phrase. He shared some challenging thoughts. This is a one day at a time prayer. God does not advance money to our accounts until we need it. He is our source. As God calls us to a place of ministry, service and opporunity, He will provide. Just a great reminder... Enjoy your daily bread!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Embrace Him NOW!

An amazing passage of the Bible is found in Paul's letter to the church @ Philippi, 3:8-9 (the message), "...I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ-God's righteousness."
This embracing is more than a moment. It's embracing with our lives. It's embracing with our all. It's living with "it" all dumped in the trash in order to embrace Him. It is impossible to embrace Him when we are holding tight to "it" - things, good or bad, or holding too tight to ourselves. I wonder if God sees that I am holding too tight to anything so I cannot embrace Him. We should ask Him to reveal those things to us, so we can "dump" them immediately. This is challenging but well worth the journey.
When He embraces us, or as Jesus stated it in John 4: 23-24, worshipping in spirit and truth, we will be found in Him. And in Him we will keep his covering over us (Psalm 95:6-7); adjust our atmosphere (Acts 16:25+); find His favor (2 Chronicles 5:13-14); and bring His blessing (Psalm 1). It just worth embracing Him. Why don't you get your embracing on right now?
Have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

God $ense, overcoming economic chaos

When you are in so deep it is easy to loose perspective and you cannot find your way out. That may be exactly where we are as a nation economically. Lost perspective is borrowing more money to pay off loans you already have (then you owe more money). This does not make "good sense". And it certainly does not make "God $ense".

God $ense gives us perspective, purpose and process to manage our finances even in economical chaos. Let's start with Proverbs 3:5-10...Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

If we can trust God to actually do life (including finances) His way, then we will walk in provision and blessing. Amazing isn't it? Trusting God means not trusting your heart, mind, ways or personal wisdom. Let Him lead and guide you every step of the way.

Trusting Him may take a heart transplant. Our heart is "deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"(Jeremiah 17:9) Our selfish and grieving heart should be replaced with a generous and grateful heart. Read Deuteronomy 15:7-15.

Trusting Him takes a commitment to contentment. Paul says in Philippians 4:10-13, ...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want...I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

We often quote the last phrase, I can do all things..., about many things, but Paul was specifically writing about his commitment to contentment. It is only through Christ that we can learn and live in contentment (having our soul @ rest).

God $ense is what I want for me. And it is what I am praying for you. Have a great week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be Strong!

Paul concludes his letter to the church at Ephesus with the admonition to be strong. Have you ever wondered why God said to us throughout the Bible through different stories and passages to be strong? This is not really a trick question. He says is often because His followers are not strong - at least in His perception - which is what matters most.

In this conclusion, Paul gives some valuable insight how we can be strong. It is not with our own might. He tells us to take on the full armor of God. In other words, we cannot be strong on our on.

Some people with deep church or religious backgrounds may have actually fallen into a bad understanding that God will not allow you to take on more than you can bear. In fact, if you look up the verses in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 that thought is derived from, you will find there is more to the story. Paul, speaking of temptation in this passage, does say God will not let you have more than you can bear. He continues to say that God will provide a way of escape in those situations. So it is more than you can handle by yourself, but not so with Him.

Look at what Paul said in this letter to the Ephesians, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting, you'll still be on your feet." (6:13, The Message).

Here again we are told this life stuff is larger than us. The only way we can stand firm is to completely, without reservation depend on and trust in God. We must take on the full armor. We must take it all - every weapon God has issued. Battles with our enemy are coming - it's a guarantee. But we can stand firm to our victory only if we take on His help.

Have a great week. (I took a little vacation and missed some weeks - but i am back in the saddle now)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

God has us where he wants us...

As I read from the Message, Ephesians 2:7 +, that "Now God has us where he wants us...", I was caught off guard. So much comes to my mind as I read this...God has us where he wants us...or does He have us where He wants us... Is where I am right now really where God wants me?... and I kept trying to wrap my head around this thought.

I tried to unwrap what Paul was saying and found some success. Paul mentions three specifics that indicate the "where" that He wants us: alive in Christ (regeneration), realization of a "raised up" life (living in Resurrection power), and participation in His divine nature (now and not just later). Well, ok, now that makes more sense. If I am enveloped in these three areas, then He does have me where He wants me.

BUT WAIT...THAT'S NOT ALL (sounds like an infomercial, doesn't it),He has me right where He wants me for a purpose. That purpose is that I can be an exhibition of His favor (His incomparable riches of grace). In every aspect of my life, I can be a display of His grace and favor.

Ok, then, maybe I am not where He wants me this is challenging. I understand what the where is, now I have to get my life in tune with the where so I can be a trophy of His grace...for all to see.

When you see a trophy from far away, you notice first the figurine or emblem that identifies the reason for the trophy first. Only upon closer examination can you read the inscription at the bottom. Remember the same is true of our lives, what people see from a distance is what draws(or repels) them to read the fine print of our lives. We are (intended to be) His workmanship, on display for Him & His glory!

Shine this week!

Monday, June 13, 2011

the deposit...a little something-something

As Christ followers we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is also the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. In a previous post, I listed an alphabet of who the Bible says the Holy Spirit is and how He can work in our lives. With all this list of who He is and what He does, He is just a deposit. A deposit is earnest money...a pledge, an assurance of what is to come. It's not even the down payment. It's just a little something-something for what's coming. When you think about that, what is coming later is really amazing.

get your deposit on... In Ephesians 1...this deposit is also referred to as our Spirit of wisdom and Spirit of revelation... Now that's a deposit worth having. In fact, Paul prayed that we would know this "incomparable" power... with all this in mind, we should get and stay connected to the deposit and be excited about what is to come... after all He's just a deposit...

if you sit where you've always sat, you're not gonna go where you need to get... in other words you've got to get sealed, and recognize you have on deposit a guarantee of your inheritance.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Open your Gift!

" much more will you Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" Jesus said in his teaching on the top (for you traditionalists, the sermon on the mount - Matthew 7:11) Many Christ followers and people in general struggle with how worthy or rather unworthy they are to receive anything from God. While it is true we, as in none of us, deserve anything we get from Him. It is by His grace and mercy that we can be offered and receive gifts from Him.

Perhaps, outside of salvation itself, one of the greatest gifts we can receive is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). It's not a gift I would want to leave unopened under the tree. As you hear the words, under the tree, your thoughts might first go to gifts under a Christmas tree, but it has an additional meaning. These gifts were purchased with the tree - the cross. I just would not want to arrive in heaven and find out I left an opened gift under His tree, especially one of such magnitude as the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you to consider asking your heavenly Father for a gift today. Specifically I challenge you to ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Why the Holy Spirit? Well, let me offer to you my abc's . It's what I call the Holy Spirit alphabet. It's not an exhaustive list, but well worth considering, studying and applying. WOW! What a gift:

Holy Spirit Alphabet
Advocate - to plead in us - John 14:16
Baptism - to unite in Christ - I Cor 12:13
Comforter - to cheer - John 14:16

Convincer - to alarm - John 16:8
Director - to guide - Romans 8:14

Deposit - guarantee - Eph. 1:14
Empower - to be a witness - Acts 1:8
Fullness - to enrich - Eph 5:18

Fruit - producer - Galatians 5:22
Guide - to lead - John 16:13

Glory - to remind - 1 Peter 4:14,

Gift Giver - to encourage - 1 Cor. 12:11
Helper - to enable - Romans 8:26
Indweller - to occupy - 1 Cor. 3:16

Illuminator - to reveal - John 16:13
Joy - to gladden - Romans 15:13
King - to rule - 2 Cor. 3:17
Liberator - to free - Romans 8:2
Mark of God - we are his - 2 Cor 1:22
New Nature Begetter - John 3:6
Oil of Gladness - Psalm 45:7
Power - to strengthen - Eph. 3:16
Quickener - to life - Romans 8:11
Reflector - to His glory - 2 Cor 3:18
Searcher - to investigate - 1 Cor 2:10

Sanctifier - to separate - Rom. 15:16
Teacher - to instruct - John 14:26

Truth - to equip - John 15:26
Understanding - to discern - Isaiah 11:2
Victory - to overcome - 1 Cor 15:57
Well of Living Water - John 4:14

Well Doing - to insure - Gal 6:8-9
Chrisma - unction, anointing to empower - 1 John 2:20
Yielding - to show obedience - Rom 6:13
Zeal - to inspire - Acts 2:17-18

Enjoy Him!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Let today be our "TODAY"

We must move beyond having the Holy Spirit to allowing the Holy Spirit to have us. This is much more than semantics. It is a reality.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, the church seems to be full of a lot of reservation, hesitation, limitation, and even imitation. What is the big deal about reading the Bible and believing what it says about God, which is inclusive of the Holy Spirit. There was never a "the end." The Bible testifies of itself as a revelation of who God is and how He wants to work in our lives. In other words, we should embrace the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as He presents himself (as revealed in the Word.)

What would happen if we approached the Holy Spirit with anticipation(looking forward to what He has), expectation(which is to be pregnant with anticipation), activation(put into motion) and participation(to take share in)? I suppose we would look, act and be a lot more like what we read about in the New Testament. In Romans 8:11, we are told that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us if we are a Christ follower. Is it possible for a people with a resurrection Spirit to live or function as though they are dead? God help us to move beyond "a Spirit in our box" life to the Spirit actually leading our lives.

In Luke 4:14-21, Jesus, being lead by the Spirit, reads a passage from Isaiah and proclaims that "today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing". In my understanding, as Christ followers, we are to be like Him in every way. In my words, He said that we should live with a visitation/habitation(of the Holy Spirit), proclamation(of good news), supplication(of freedom to those in bondage), restoration(for those who live in darkness), transformation(for those who are oppressed by their enemy) and jubilation(as we recognize the Lord's favor). May this be our "today"!

Is this really for us? Acts 2:38-39 says..."this promise if for you"...

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's time to get personal...

I read this last week: Galatians 5:16+. A great passage where the apostle Paul writes about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives including the famous fruit of the Spirit description. He writes in what appears to be a progression in the relationship with the Holy Spirit that is available to us.

First he says for us to "live by the Spirit". By doing this we do not feed the compulsions of our selfishness. This seems to be the first stage or layer of the relationship. This relationship really begins the age old battle of our flesh and the Spirit. This battle is winnable if we acquiesce to the Holy Spirit. He can empower us to win the daily battles we face.

The next part of the progression seems to be when he writes, "be led by the Spirit". It seems the relationship progresses to the Spirit taking a leadership role in our lives. It's at this point that he gives us the descriptive list of what our lives are when we are bearing the fruit of our natural or sinful lives. It's not a pretty picture and results in us not inheriting the kingdom of God. Then he gives us the description of the fruit of the Spirit (not the fruit of our natural lives) as the Spirit leads our lives. This means we make our lives good soil and cooperate with the Spirit as He grows fruit through us.

The last portion of this passage finishes with, "keep in step with the Spirit". Now it appears we have moved from habitation relationship, to leadership relationship, now to keep in step dimension. Wow! To think God will live with us, lead us and give us a new pace is amazing to think about. It's even more amazing to experience.

With the day of Pentecost approaching, I challenge you to join me and let's experience a fresh commitment to a personal Pentecost. And may we have the harvest God gives with such a vibrant relationship. Let's pick up His pace!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Be Acts!

A few days ago I had the privilege of teaching a school of ministry class on material relating to the book of Acts in the Bible. I asked the class to describe in one word descriptions the church as it was birthed and grew in the book of Acts. For the next several minutes they shared many descriptions, some of which were "bold, powerful, prayer, missions, conflict resolution, healing,unity, persecution, love, growth..." They shared so many I was certain they had studied very well.

I then asked them to describe in one word descriptions the church in 2011. After sitting quiet for a few moments, they began: "passionless, weak, divided; directionless; traditional..." Then someone said it's not that "bad" in my church. We agreed there are pockets of good things happening in the church in 2011.

Then I asked them how does the church of 2011 compare to the Acts church. They were uncertain and did not want to answer. They came to an conclusion: the two don't have a lot of similarities.

I told them I set them up. It is so easy to evaluate what was and what is. And then we compare and start to find reasons why it is what it is. We often want to place blame on past situations or leadership or on current situations or leadership.

Then I formed the last consideration. I said it really doesn't matter what the church in Acts was like, and it doesn't matter what the church of 2011 is like; what matters is what are you like? You could have heard a pin drop.

I ask us all to consider, what do I look like in light of the Acts church? Could i become Acts - s second book? We cannot produce change while playing a blame game. We cannot change others. We can change ourselves. We effectively influence for change when we produce change in us.

May it be said of our generation years from now or as we gather in heaven for a testimony meeting, they were full of passion, power, purpose, loving, etc. May it be the Holy Spirit who testifies about us: There was another generation, We call them the Acts Church - number 2.

God help us!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Post resurrection world...2

After the resurrection the disciples were still searching for answers. They had experienced the resurrected Christ and wondered what was next. Then He left again...the ascension. He was taken away in a cloud back to heaven. Now what? What's next? What do we do? Surely these are thoughts that were swirling in their hearts.

All they could do is do what Christ told them to do...not a bad idea. "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."..."But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4-5,8)

We could learn from the disciples. When your heart and life are swirling with uncertainties, do what Christ has told you to do. Keep your focus and do what He says. Something big is coming. Something exciting is coming. Something promised is coming. Something He spoke about is coming. Something more is coming. Something powerful is coming.

So what should we do until it gets here? Wait. Believe. PRAY! That's what they did. And it worked. I know it's radical to do what they did in the Bible, but I believe it works for us too...just saying.

Have a great, big, exciting, promised, more, and powerful week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

post resurrection world

Romans 8:11 tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us...if we are Christ followers and have asked Him to lead our lives. With this in mind, we as Christ followers are living in a post resurrection world with the same resurrection power living in us. I think what God has in mind is more than this. He wants this Spirit (resurrection power) to live not just in us but through us. If this Spirit is just living in us, perhaps dormant, then we are missing the point and need a personal resurrection. May you ask and allow God to live in and through you with resurrection power that will flow to others so they may experience real Life!

Share your story! As this Spirit power flows through you and you minister to others, share what God is doing to encourgage others to do the same. Elijah was a man just like us (James 5:17,18) and God worked through him.

Have a great day! I appreciate you and all you do for the King!