Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions to Change...

The New Year brings promises from individuals who want to set goals sometimes to off-set how they feel about what they did not accomplish in the previous one.  Sometimes things occur in the year that cause us to strive to do better or different as if the New Year brings a swiping of the etch-a-sketch and we all get a do-over.  Of course, there are some visions that make sure that before we actually start the New Year that we make sure the old one goes out with a bang.

There are several popular New Years resolutions out there - here is the top 10 from 2010.

  • 1. Stop Smoking
  • 2. Get into a Habit of being Fit
  • 3. Lose Weight - the Battle of the Bulge
  • 4. Enjoy Life More.
  • 5. Quit Drinking
  • 6. Organize Yourself - this is one of the keys to reaching your goals
  • 7. Learn Something New
  • 8. Get out of Debt
  • 9. Spend More Time With Family
  • 10. Help People.
  • I've researched back for the past several years and in some way shape or form, they remain the same.  What do each of these resolutions say to you?  Are some of them on your list?
  • The Bible says in Genesis 1:27 that "God created man in His own image".  Have you ever stopped to figure out then what God really looks like?  Is that a driving factor deep within us that says we must strive to change in order to be more like God?
  • Here are some facts about resolutions:
  1. Within 1 week 30% of New Years resolutions are broken.
  2. Within 6 months more than 50% are broken.
  3. By the end of the year, a mere 10% have stuck to their resolutions for the New Year.
Why do you think this might be?  Could it be that our priorities are out of whack?  Does it strike anyone as odd that "Get closer to Jesus" does not make the list?

Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".  Maybe this hinders us from trying to get closer to God because we believe we will fail anyway.

However, God loves us and wants to be closer to us.  This was the reason for Jesus.  

We can get closer to Him.  

We can put him first.

We can resolve to change.

But in order for that change to take place, we must rely on God.  I once heard a joke that went like this - If you want to make God laugh, tell Him YOUR plans!!  

Philippians 4:13 says "I can do everything through him who gives me strength".  Notice it does not say one thing, many things, or some things.  It says I can do EVERYTHING.  Many Bibles translate this to say ALL things.  The point is that when we put our trust, faith, hope, and love in God, 


 This is only one part of the equation.  The next part is THROUGH HIM. This isn't when we feel like it or only when times are bad.  This means to do all things we must be with God because it is only with the strength, power, and love of God that we can achieve God's glorious plan for us.

My challenge to each of you is this:  

Resolve to put God first.  

Get closer to Jesus.  

Take time each day to have a conversation with God.  

Let him know your thoughts, worries, fears, doubts, and joys.  

Give Him praise for what he is doing in your life.  

Even in times of trouble, you can find God's goodness at work.

It is my belief that even if some (or all) of the things on the top 10 resolution list are on your list, if you resolve to develop a stronger relationship with God, you will be able to accomplish everything.  You may stumble, you may falter, but when God is standing with you, what can stand against you?

As we look to the New Year, I pray for great blessings to each of you.  May you find strength to persevere through the trials of the enemy.  May you find the love of our Lord to wrap you and shield you.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Today is the day legends are made of - Christmas.  When I say legend, I don't mean the type that is hyped in today's overpriced professional sports world.  I mean legends of enormous proportions.  Today is the day Jesus was born over 2000 years ago.

Read Luke 2:1-20

The story of the birth of the One who would come to release us from the wages of death (sin).  Who would have thought that little one would bear such a burden later in life.  Who would have thought that a man (even one who was God in man form) would take the beatings, degradations, torture, and earthly death that Jesus took for each of us.  Who would have thought that someone would CHOOSE to do this. 

The season of Christmas has been perverted by Satan to be something in today's world that it is not.  Christmas is about celebrating the birth of a Savior.  It is not about who gives or gets the best gifts.

Re-read Luke 2:9-14 which says - 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

This is what the season is about.  As you go about this season think of the blessings that have been given to you.  As you advance out of the Christmas season and perhaps make New Year's resolutions, I implore you to make a new resolution to keep the season of Christ first in your lives. 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests!!

Merry Christmas.  Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fear, Worry, and Doubt - The Three Spirits of Doom

Fear, worry, and doubt - The crippling and paralyzing things that we do to ourselves with the help of outside forces that keep us moving in circles like a hamster on an exercise wheel.  We know that there is no end, yet we keep going and do not get off the ride.

Fear -
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

We are taught to be afraid.  We learn this by trying things and getting hurt.  It does not matter what the situation is, for every behavior there is an outcome.  Some are pleasurable, some are painful.  The painful ones make us afraid to try again.

Think about small children.  I remember my daughter having no fear about anything.  More than once, I thought I was having a heart attack watching her climb a tall ladder to go down a slide, or when she jumped off a platform that I thought was too high.  My son now delights me with torture by the same methods (I think they shared the secret).

But as they get older, fear starts to set in and things change.  Now they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, or that people won't like them, or that they will fall (from that same ladder they climbed only a year ago).  My point is that their fear keeps them from doing things.

Part of the joy of Jesus is that he came to give life and to give life more abundantly.(Read John 10:10).  The thief comes to kill, rob, and destroy.  He comes to steal your joy, to kill your adventurous spirit, and to destroy your abundant or full life.

Romans 8:15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

For me fear means


God sent his Son to intercede within the world to create a bridge between man and God.  There is nothing to fear.  Jesus is here, he is here indeed.

We have a path lit for us, yet the world pulls us off the path.

We fear - Ever use the question "What if" to determine your course of action?  Do you avoid the decision that brings you the most fear because it may be God directed and outside your comfort zone?

We worry - What will everyone else think of me?  I know a lot of people (and I am one as well) who will say "I don't care what people think of me!".  Yet, it always flashes.  Every time I write a post, I flash back to who I was and doubt creeps in about what others who knew me at that time will think about the things they see here.  The truth is these days, those thoughts are more fleeting as my faith, resolve, and direction become more cemented in our Lord Jesus.

We doubt - Why me?  Who me?  I can't do that!!  

I wrote recently about finding my Dad.  I really wanted to find my Dad from the time I was 18 years old.  I had not seen him since I was 6.  Fear, Worry, and Doubt kept me from making any sort of move to find him for 29 years.  29 years that the enemy stole my ability to live life more abundantly.  29 years of worry, doubt, and fear about the man that I missed.  29 years of an inability to express those things or to find the ultimate joy that God has graced me with since finding him.

29 years is a long time.

I had friends that did not even have lives that lasted 29 years.

But let me tell you something - God blessed me.  I don't remember much about the 29 years I did not have with my Dad, but the last 5 with him have been nothing short of miraculous.  My point is that moving past the fear, worry, and doubt can bless you beyond your wildest dreams.

Matthew 6:27 - Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matthew 6:34 - So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

Cast your doubts, fears, worries, and cares upon the Lord.  His ear is tuned, his shoulders are broad, and his heart is large. 

Many blessings to each of you.  Rest assured that no matter your faults or failures, your worries or doubts, your trials or tribulations, your greatest fear...God is in control and He loves you.

Pastor Jim

Monday, December 6, 2010

Give...Give...Give...then give some more!!!

Acts 20:35 "In every way I've shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus for He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (HCSB)

The holiday season - what is it really all about.  Recently we talked about how it is so easy to get wrapped up in the new greatest thing, the coolest toy, the most awesome gift.  But ultimately, what is the season about?

The pat answer is "JESUS" of course.  But the season is about more than that.  God sent his only son to earth to live among mortal men and to pay the ultimate price in order to create a bridge that brings God and us together. One of the greatest lessons that Jesus taught was to give, give, give, and then give some more.  Ultimately, Jesus gave so much that he was ridiculed, beaten, condemned, crucified, ridiculed some more, stabbed and finally when "it was finished", he gave up his earthly life.

Jesus set a bar that none can obtain.  Yet that should encourage us to try.


What can you give?

  1. Money - in today's society often money is the easiest thing we can give.  Obviously, many things that work to improve the lives of others costs in today's society.  However, it is easy.  So if you are moved to give, find a worthy cause and give.
  2. Belongings - possessions will all fade away.  We all came into this world with nothing and we will all leave the same way.  Clean out closets, things that have not been used or worn in a while - give them away.
  3. Time - we can all get involved and give time.  Find a ministry and get involved.  In today's world and churches, you can find any number of things that feed your passions from tech help to child care to prisons to missions and everything in between.  Give of your most prized possession, your time.
  4. God's word & your story - how has God worked in your life?  If you go to your local bookstore you are liable to find numerous self-help books on how to share  your faith and your story.  However, I have found that the easiest way to do this is to just sit down and talk.  Share.  Give of your story.
  5. Love & kindness - sometimes just a kind word can be the difference between an outlook of another.  You never know how what you say or do can drastically effect someone else.  Give the gift of love.  Randomly do something kind for someone else.
Who can you give to?
  • This is probably the easiest - you can give to anyone.  It is often not easy to discern who needs it the most.  That is not up to you to decide.  It is just up to you to do.  Give...give...give...and then give some more!!!
When you are approaching this holiday season, look at different ways that you can give.  Help those in need.  Give of your talents, give of your time, give of your resources.  Live life in a way that mirrors the love of Jesus.

Blessings to each of you this holiday season.  God loves each of you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Father's Love

The Bible tells us of many stories of a Father's love for his children.

John 3:16 (God sent his only Son)

Luke 15: 11-31 (Parable of the lost son)

Read about Noah, Job, Abraham.  None of these Fathers (except God of course) were perfect, yet each father gives an example of the love, protection, and work of fatherhood.

This particular topic is one that has created much difficulty in my life.  I spent most of my life growing up without a father.  My parents divorced when I was very young and the systems of support for fathers was not what it is today.  I went almost 30 years between times when I saw my father.

Isaiah 22:22 says "I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open".

God opened that door to find my earthly father. Ultimately it was a faith step with God that allowed that relationship to open again.  At the time, I was very scared and feared that I would be rejected.  I had nothing to fear as God was in control and my father is now one of my closest and dearest friends.  Because God is a God of wonder, let me just tell you that finding my dad was a miracle upon miracles as the feat has not been able to be duplicated since.

My dad has been visiting for the last three weeks and in that time, we have had time to talk together about the situations that I am facing.  And as we spoke I watched my dad have a great love on his face coupled with a great sadness in his eyes as my situation mirrors our situation 35 years ago.  His advice brings me back to the verse in Isaiah 22 where I am reminded that it is not I who has the power to shut and open doors.

That power is not mine.  I must be willing to submit to the will of God and know that he is in control.  Dad reminded me to live and to have hope, faith, and believe that someday things will be different.  God is in the business of miracles.

1 Samuel 3:9 "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."  

I think that we live in a world where we spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.  We live in a society where WE must fix our problems and have solutions for everything under the sun. Clear the interference.  Get rid of the distractions.  God seeks listeners.  Ones who will heed his Word, then do what he asks.

No hesitation.

No doubt.

Just faith.  

Please read Hebrews 11:1 and Hebrews 11:6.

God is our Father in heaven who loves us so much.  I found this today as I was seeking ways to convey the love of my Fathers.

A Father's hands are gentle,
A Father's hands are strong,
Guiding, helping, teaching,
Showing right from wrong --
The protection of a Father's hands,
And the love that's in their touch,
Give the feeling of security
A child needs so much --
And although they may be rough from toil,
A child still understands
How much of life's true beauty
Comes from a Father's hands.
--Mary R. Hurley--

Many blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.  I thank God for you each day.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Free the mind!!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he... (Proverbs 23:7)

One of the most life-changing books that I have been reading this year besides the Bible is Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. I have read quite a few books this year, but few have made such a profound impact as this one. How many of you have spent time worrying, stressing, and dreading things that as you have looked back on events; you had no control over the outcomes?  That is what this book is about, changing your thinking so that you can live a positive, happy, Godly life.

The mind is one place where the enemy makes his seat. While we find in scripture that God remembers our sins no more, the enemy seeks to kill, rob, and destroy. What does he seek to destroy?




Without these feelings to compel us through our daily lives - what do we have?  We have an absence of God.  A living definition of hell on earth.  A place without God is a place with no love, no joy, no compassion, no praise, no support.

Think about it. When your friends get promotions, raises, a house, kids, etc., are you truly joyful or do you hear a little voice that says "I should have that"? What may start as a small insignificant doubt about how you measure success ends up as full blown jealousy and thus steals your joy.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he...  What does this say to you? 

To me is says if you think good thoughts, you will be good. 

If you think rotten thoughts, you will be rotten. 

If you only think of material items, you will only push yourself to acquire those material items.

If you think of Godly things, you will pursue God.

David is described as a man after God's heart.  Here is a key to David - he was a man after God's heart - when he set his mind to God.  When his mind strayed, he strayed.

When you seek the kingdom of God, you shall find it.  How do you seek the kingdom of God?  You must discipline yourself to do some basic things.
  1. Read God's word - it is there to provide a guide for you and to be a rock in times of trouble.
  2. Pray openly - communicate your wants, needs, desires, happiness, sorrows - all of it to God.  There is a song that we often sing with the line "I'm giving everything to God, I'm giving everything to God, I'm giving everything to God...Who's given everything to me".  We may feel that we have to protect those around us by not telling them certain things, God is not the same way.  He desires that relationship with us.
  3. Surround yourself with love - whether this is the people you hang with, the job you work, or just your attitude, surround yourself with love.
En Vogue put out a song in 1992 called "Free your mind".  While the song was about prejudice in today's society, the line "Free your mind and the rest will follow" is the line that I think God uses to get to us to change our ways. 

It is not the sins of the flesh that get us.  It is the sins that swim in our mind that lead us down the path that says whatever we do is ok.  That is why we communicate with God.  To cleanse and to thank God for his understanding in our lives.

Free the mind.  Sweep out the clutter of life that entangles you.  Let God come in and fill that space.  Watch how when you let him in, He can change your life!!!

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves each and every one of you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, November 14, 2010

'Tis the season

As we head into the holiday season in today's society, it is often easy to forget what the season is about.  It is about the love we share towards each other, not the gifts we receive.  Yet the "black Friday" sales have already begun.  You can get this awesome product for only $299.00 - regularly priced at $599.00.  What a bargain.  What a bargain for you.  Come in, buy, leave happy. 

(Insert fine print here)


Unlike in past years, we now get that ability to be tempted and disappointed long before the Christmas season even begins.  Because even if we get the items, our joy in material things fades as quickly as our remembrances of yesterday's weather.


The season is about the love we share towards each other.  The remembrance of the beginning of the greatest life in history begins now.  The lead up to the birth of our Lord and Savior - Jesus Christ. (Read Luke 2:1-7).  While there were many proclamations of the coming of Christ, Bethlehem gives us the birth of God in man's form.  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

Jesus lived a life that no one had before or has since.  A life abundant and sinless.  Max Lucado in  He Chose the Nails issues a challenge to each of us to see if we could live a totally sinless life in thought and deed for 24 hours, then backs that challenge down all the way to the next five minutes.  The reality is that we can't live that sinless life.  Romans 3:10 - There is no one righteous, not even one.  Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 

Yet Jesus - God in man form  - did this and took his life to the cross to die for each of our sins - all of them.  Even the ones that we have committed while reading this post. 

Read Matt 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19 for the story of Christ's love being demonstrated for us.  The physical suffering that he endured to save a wretch like me. 

For the story of Jesus' resurrection read Matt 28:1-7, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, & John 20:1-9.

To think it started with a baby in a manger in the barn of an inn. 

While the celebration of Jesus death and resurrection does not typically happen until Easter, the holiday season is the time (as is every other moment in time) but especially at this time, the time to understand what the season is about. 

The one who came to save us was born. 

The greatest gift we can give this holiday season is sharing the love of Jesus with those around us.  Recently I used the phrase facilitating the introduction to Jesus.  Facilitating that introduction means sharing about him.  Sharing the knowledge that Jesus came and was born to save us.  Sharing the gift that He died for us and that He rose again.  For us.

I pray the blessings of our Lord and Savior upon each of you this day.  I pray that you find the strength to tell those around you about the glory of God and his love for them. 

Thank you for each of your prayers over the past week.  Although the situations that pain me have not changed, the circumstance of my perception has.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  Praise God that he would love a man like me.  Thank you Jesus.

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings to each of you.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God is ALWAYS faithful!!!

Last week I wrote about how the hits will keep coming.  No matter how good or great life becomes, the hits of the enemy will keep coming.  Each situation that arises is an opportunity for God to show his majesty.  It is an opportunity for us to realize that no matter what our make-up is, it is all an infinite distant second to the omnipotence of God's power and grace.

This week has been one of those weeks for me.  I won't burden any of you with the particulars of my struggles this week, but please allow me to share some of God's grace as He has shown me this past week.

As I struggled down and down to some of the lowest depths that I have experienced in many, many years, God sent messages to me.  Those messages came in many forms.  It took me about three days, but finally the Son was able to shine through into my darkness. 

Romans 8:24-27 - " 24 For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  27 And he who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saint in accordance with God's will." (NIV)

In today's world, the joy that is found in Christ can often be swallowed by the world.  The pressures of life, the need to keep up with the neighbors, the need to have more, get more, be better, look better, be cool, dress well, and the willingness to step on anyone to get it can drastically impact the joy that is placed in Jesus. I recently was at a function where a comedian asked the crowd to choose which would make them happier - going to heaven or something else.  I was saddened that only a few of us clapped loudly for going to meet our maker.  But, some being glad for Jesus is a way to get others excited for the Lord.  Because He is always faithful and he waits for all to come to him until his appointed time.

God is always faithful to a point that he not only sent his one and only son (John 3:16-17) to save the world but he also sent the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf.  To speak for us when the words fail us, when we do not know what to say.

Have you ever fallen on your knees crying?  Have you ever done so to the Lord?  Have you ever felt so totally inadequate that you did not even know what to say?  THAT is God's faithfulness coming through.  Because even we can't - God can and does.  God knows the needs of your heart. 

The enemy attempts to undermine everything that God does.

Revelation 3:8 says "I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." (NIV)

Many times we spend a good portion of our time wondering what could be.  That is one of the traps.  God knows the plans that he has for us (Jeremiah 29:11).  And God will make those plans apparent to us when His time is right.  Remember the serpent is crafty (Genesis 3:1).  The enemy lives to create a wider divide between man and God.

The enemy uses our past against us. If you have asked for God's forgiveness, He no longer remembers our past.  Once you have stepped closer to God, He stepped closer to you.  Philippians 1:6 says "God has begun a good work in me, and He is well able to bring it to full completion."

Surround yourselves with like-minded people and things.  Positive in = positive out.  Negative in = negative out.  Those who are stronger in this moment can be your line to a forgiving Father.  Life tosses many waves at us.  You will get the opportunity to be the same for them at the same time.

Let me leave you with James 1:2-4 which says "2 Consider it pure joy, by brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."

When God's word got through to me this week, the change was automatic and drastic.  The old me was gone and the new had returned (2 Corinthians 5:17).  God is great and glorious.  He may not take away your situation (because it can be used to develop perseverance), but he can and will change your circumstance and outlook.  PRAISE GOD!!!!

No matter what comes, God is remaining faithful to you.  And to my friends who were with me in my struggles this week...Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Angela, Megan, and Todd - you are truly angels sent from heaven.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We have a choice!!

No matter how good we feel at a given moment there are a couple of constants in the universe.

  1. God loves us.
  2. The attacks will come.
We have been overwhelmed with the stories of how God loves us and we have studied many of them here.  Yet while we live in a world of darkness, it is not truly until we are saved that we start to realize that the attacks are coming and they come hard.

1 Peter 5:8 - "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)

The attacks can come at any point.  Usually they come at the times when we are flying the highest.  Something great has just happened.  Many of us walk around with that feeling of dread when something good does happen.  Many of my friends refer to this as the "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" period.

God created us in his own image.  It's almost as if he has given us an additional sense to know that the attacks will come.

But even though we know the attacks will come, the Word gives us several scriptures that let us know how to withstand those attacks.

1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)

James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)

Romans 6:11-12 - "11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." (NIV)

James 1:19-20 - "19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (NIV)

The attacks WILL come.  The enemy seeks to kill, rob, and destroy (John 10:10).  The enemy will make you doubt yourself.  The enemy will strike at the heart.  The enemy will work to turn you against others, against yourself, against God.

But we have a choice!!!  We have the ability to change.  We have the ability to ask God for his help, (see Acts 17:11 about donning the full armour of God).  We have the ability to take our negative situations, thoughts, and deeds and transfer them into something powerful for the Glory of God.

Oh the attacks will come.  But our great and glorious God has given us the ability, the armour, the willingness, and the love to make a choice that glorifies him and thus saves us. 

When the attacks come.  Stop - Pray - and if your heart is not right - Pray some more - and if it is still not right - Pray some more - then and only then, when you and God are in agreement -  then act in a manner that brings glory to the Father.

We have a choice - we must exercise it.

Blessings to each of you this day.  I am praying for each of you and I ask that you do the same for me.  God loves you!!

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stepping out of your comfort zone

As we get older, we start to become creatures of habit.  We get comfortable.  We get complacent.  We develop this thought process that there is always tomorrow or it will change later. 

We like how comfortable things feel.  Change is difficult and we don't want to be stretched.  Yet isn't this what Jesus calls us to do?

Sometimes even the smallest step in faith can have the most profound effects on us and those around us.

What is that first small step for you?  For me it was starting to believe and have faith in a God that I could not see and that I could not hear.  Then it was talking to Him.  It is still a process of believing that God has chosen me to do things for Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." (NIV)

Take a moment to reflect on that.  The OLD is gone -
  • Whatever you have done in your past is gone - see Isaiah 43:25 
  • God has forgiven you
  • Because of God's love - see John 3:16 -17 - we have been granted a new beginning, a new salvation, a new mission.
  • Read Isaiah 53:5  -  summed up - "by his wounds we are healed" - but don't take my word for it.  Read it.  Read about the story of Jesus LONG before he came
The NEW has come - 
  • You are a new creation in Christ - refer again to 2 Corinthians
What a glorious reward.  Yet it is not the ultimate reward.  Remembering that God gave his one and only son (a concept as a father that I cannot fathom) to save each and every one of us, it falls on us to not squander this gift.

This is one time where the sharing of a gift in not only OK but encouraged!!  This is where people get uncomfortable.  Oh, no - he's going to say - "Tell someone about the gift you've been given."  And you are right.

When I found happiness in God, I found happiness in life.  And I want to shout it from the mountain tops.  Just like when my children were born, I want to tell everyone about it.

For many of us, we maybe do not know how.  That is where recently I talked about just facilitating the introduction.  It is up them to then have a conversation with God.  But again, you have to stretch yourself to begin to do that.  We can't just waste our gift by sitting back and enjoying the blessings.  Share them.

God has a purpose for each of us.  God has a plan.  It won't be easy.  Trust me.  I did not know God most of my life, even though He was still with me I realize now looking back.  I falter now with words to describe God's love and gentle hands.  But God guides my fingers as I type, so I do not have to worry.

Step out.  Do something radical for God.  He did for you.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get to Living!!!

2 Corinthians 4: 6-10 - 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in dispair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.(NIV)

In our time of great struggles - often of our own creation - it is important to reflect on the importance of what has been taught to us.  One of the saddest things in today's world is to witness the suffering of others.  What compounds that is those that suffer at their own hand. 

Some of those individuals do not know Jesus.  That is part of our commission to facilitate the introduction.  Not to ram God down anyone's throat, all must come to the Father of their own accord.  But rather to simply introduce God to others who may not know him.  There are many ways to do this - we can teach, we can preach, we can badger, we can condemn, etc.  But while some of these can be helpful, ultimately it is not usually any of them that make the first impression for God. 

It is rather how we act in our lives.  The actions that we illustrate can create a spark of curiosity in others.  It is the light that we project.  It is how we respond to the trials and tribulations of this life.  It is how we demonstrate a love and faith for someone that others do not see.

That brings me to the second group of sufferers.  Those are the ones that do know Jesus.  They know that God sent Jesus to take the burden of ALL sin upon himself to facilitate a relationship between man and God.  They've asked Jesus into their heart and asked him to guide their lives.

But something happened.  A bad thing.  You can fill in the blank.  We have all been there.  A break up perhaps?  A lost job? A lost loved one?  Anything can be used as a reason to fall off course.  Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (NIV).  This is not said in condemnation, but rather as fact.  We have all fallen short - whether we never believed or if we strayed.

The point is that God remains steady.  He remains our rock.  He remains present even when we wander away.  He waits patiently and then he welcomes us back.

We have the opportunity to LIVE in such a manner that it brings glory to God.  Through that living, we are able to show a loving Father who will be there in the time of need for others.  It is by being a light - not a perfect one because only Jesus filled that role - that we can illuminate God's presence to the lost.

Everyone who chooses to come to God must do so of their own accord.  But if you are down now, remember He is still there. 

Go to Him, share your burdens. 

Ask for His help, guidance, and love. 

And once you have it (and you have it the moment you ask, no waiting for credit approval):

Get to Living and share it with someone else.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Steppin' Up

One of the greatest fears that man faces is the fear of failure.  It is sometimes because of fear of failure that we do fail because we ultimately fail to act in a situation or an opportunity.  We have been witness to great failures throughout history, both from attempting something and failing (Thomas Edison and the filament light bulb is a great example) to the unwillingness to try because there is a fear of failure (Insert any regret that you have in this spot).

We live in a world where it appears to be easier to criticize than to encourage.  It appears easier to Monday morning quarterback the big game rather than get in there and make the plays ourselves.  It is easier to whisper in secret than shed light on situations in order that they become opportunities for success.  It is easier to try to keep up with our neighbors (in material gains) by complaining then overextending ourselves or having unrealistic expectations versus working diligently, seeking God's favor and decision in our plans, and trusting what He says is right.

1 Chronicles 28:20 "David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished." (NIV)

Take some time to reread that verse a few times and break it down.  Here is what God's word says to me.
  1. Be strong and courageous - Have faith (see Heb 11:1), stick to it, you have support.
  2. Do the work - How often do we want it just handed to us?  When we get to heaven the Lord will say "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt 25:23) because we have done the work of the Lord.
  3. Do not be afraid or discouraged - Often we are so full of fear that it incapacitates us to the point of non movement, and we fail.  (see Matt 6:25-34)  Worry, fear, doubt are all tools that Satan uses to drive a wedge between us and God.
  4. For the Lord is with you and will not fail you or forsake you - If we go back to the first three points, can we get a firmer grasp on this point. 
IT IS NOT GOD THAT FAILS US - but rather we RIP ourselves away from his support.  We try to fix it in our own manner or we give up and walk away.

God desires us to have a life fulfilled not empty.  But we must understand that a life fulfilled may not be the "American Dream", it will be something way more powerful than that. 


We commit.


We do the work.


We trust, believe, love, and have faith.

God already stepped up to the plate.  It is now our turn to meet him.

Has God given you an opportunity to step up?  Has God given you an idea, a plan, a passion, a talent that you are not using? 


Blessings upon each of you this evening.  God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let Go!!

A saying that I have had the most problems with in recent years is "Let go and let God."  Personally, it used to remind me of catchy jingles that make me want to go out and buy ice cream only to find that a few hours later after I have eaten it, that I am only filled with remorse over not holding to my expectations of eating healthier.

Let go and let God.

A cheesy, whimsical phrase that has allowed many to use God as their scapegoat.  "Oh well, I let go, and God didn't do _____."  Ever been there?  Ever listened to someone else being there?

Let go and let God.

How many of you are control freaks?  If not a freak, then just some other minimization that allows to you live with being in control? 

I would like you to think back to some things that we have discussed about our relationship with Christ.  God has allowed man choice.  This is not the same as control.

You have the ability to choose -

Choose between resentment or rejoicing
Choose between love and anger
Choose between right and wrong
Choose between reading the word or not
Choose between following the word or not
Choose between being a light or blindfold
Choose between being kind or being harsh
Choose between following or rebelling
Choose between worshiping God or worshiping something else (money for example)
Choose to ask for the Lord's help and guidance or try to do it on your own

My point is you have the choice to make decisions on how you will live your life that does not mean that you have control.  Control is an illusion.

Let go and Let God.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Let go and Let God.

If you continue to read in Jeremiah, you will find that the Lord offers a path to his plans for you.  Jeremiah 29:12 says "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen."  (NIV) Yes, God knows what you are going to say, even before you say it, but God will wait for you to come to Him.  God will wait for you to pray to Him.  God will wait for you to speak to Him.  AND HE WILL LISTEN!!  What a glorious relief.

Let go and Let God.

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV).

For many years the "Let go and let God" slogan angered me.  But it was not because of anything anyone else was doing.  It was because I bought in to the lie that I was in control.  I bought into the lie that I could do it on my own.  Jeremiah 29:13 gives a key to God for us.  A key that we often misplace.  When we seek him we will find him - but only if we seek him with ALL our heart.

To trust in the Lord - to Let go and LET God - means to seek him with ALL of our heart.  God does not want a one-way relationship.  God does not want a piece of our lives.  God wants the whole thing.

Sometimes it may seem as if God is not there, that he is not listening, that he does not care.  But in reality, it is us, who must seek with the love of our whole hearts.  God will provide for all of your needs at the appropriate time.  God will prepare you for the daunting tasks that lie ahead of you.  God will stand by you and love you - even when you feel the most alone and vulnerable.

God will do all these things if you will...

Let go and Let God.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you!

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Continuing to Break Through

As I listen to conversations around me, I am struck by the number of times that I hear "Why does God allow suffering?"  "Why me?" "What did I do wrong?" It is in these questions that I find that we have an opportunity to continue to break our cycles that entangle us.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says "3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so can can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort flows." (NIV).

One of the traps that is laid for us is that if we suffer, God can and will fix everything and our troubles will go away.  This last statement is true, God can and will fix everything (though in His time and in His way).  But the trap of Satan is more that when God does not do it in our time or way, he sneaks in and forms a wedge between us and God.  And at that point he (Satan) uses everything at his disposal to widen that divide.

I want you to think about things from a slightly different perspective.  Remembering that God desires a relationship with us (way more than we show that we desire one with Him), we have to view God as an active partner in our relationship.  How many of you have ever been in a relationship where someone was the taker (only) and one was the giver (only) - or at least that is how it looked.  How long did you allow yourself to be taken advantage of - or conversely how long did you take advantage of the other person?

It is right that we should seek God in our times of trouble.  Just like it is right that we should seek Him in our times of questioning, in our times of gladness, in our times of sadness, in our times of loudness, and in our times of quiet.  The point is that we should be seeking God's face in every time and action.

Psalm 27:4 "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all of the days of my life, and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple." (NIV)

Living IN the presence of the Lord should be our greatest desire.  If we do this, it does not mean that we will not suffer, but it will build and rebuild our centered relationship with God so that in our times of suffering, we can know peace and that God is in control.

God does not cause suffering.  But God does use suffering to stretch us, to shape us, and to guide us.

We go to God to seek comfort.  And through the comfort that we receive, we are able to comfort others.  We can not do anywhere near the greatness of God, but though receiving comfort from God, we can help others to reach for God's comfort.  While breaking out of a cycle that works against, we can enter into another that works for us.

In working with recovery, there is a tenant that states if you take something away (negative influence coupled with negative behavior) you must replace it with a mutually beneficial positive influence. 

Think about what you are adding and subtracting or deposits and withdrawals in your life. 

What are you working towards?

Who are you seeking your guidance from?

I want to leave you today with one of my favorite passages.

Psalm 121:1-2 " 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?  2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (NIV)

If you are struggling tonight, honestly assess where is your help coming from.  God desires to be with you in all things.  You just have to take the second step.  He already took the first when He sent his one and only Son to die for you and for me.  Ask for His hand and say thanks.

Blessings upon each and every one of you.  God truly loves us more than we can possibly fathom.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breaking the Cycle

How often do we find ourselves in a sense of deja vu?  I'm not talking about the fleeting "I think I dreamed this" but rather the type that says "Oh boy, I've been here before".  This cycle can be about anything in our lives, but generally it is a pattern of self-defeating actions that end up with us having a worthless mindset that places the blame everywhere else except where it belongs.

Life is about perspective - it may take a while to see what is the best route, but once you do see it, it will change everything.

The things of life that entangle us are placed there for a reason.  And we choose those things.  Think about the cycle that you get into...can you pinpoint its start?  Can you identify where you can break the cycle?

If we look into the Judges era of the Bible we find a cycle that many of you may recognize

1. Israel would forget God and begin worshipping idols.

2. A wave of foreign invasion and oppression would begin.

3. The people would cry out to God for deliverance.

4. God would send a deliverer, who would through God's help defeat the invaders
and for a time rule over the people as judge.”

5. Back to step 1.
I want you to think about this for a moment - because Israel fell into the same patterns we endure today.
When things go well - we forget God.  We forget that the primary reason that things are going well is because of the goodness and grace of God. God wants to see his children prosper and when they do, instead of falling on our knees to give thanks, we abandon God.
Challenge yourself - think about it.  How much time do you spend in celebration with God, thanking him for the blessings that have been bestowed upon you?
When we get out of alignment with God - entanglements happen - we pull further away from God. We begin to worry. We try to fix them on our own.  We often fail miserably. We blame Him.  We cry "why me".  We look to blame everyone under the sun.
When things get hopeless - we run to God asking for his help.  We beg for his help.  We barter - if you will do this, I will follow you always.  We may for a fleeting moment, we may even truly believe. 
God sends us hope, a solution, a way out of our problems.  We say an initial thanks (if we give Him credit), then what do we do.......
Back to step 1.
Not much appears to have changed.  The cycle continues to occur.  But there is hope.
His name is Jesus.
Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (NIV)
The path to breaking the cycle has been laid out for us in the Word of God.  Matthew 4:19 gives the simple command that Jesus gave to Peter and Andrew.  Come, follow me.  
Getting into the Word is the first step to breaking your cycle.  If you do not read the Word and accept it as God's message to you about your life, it is impossible for you to make the changes in your life that will lead you to God's plan for you.
I have a piece of homework for you.  Go to a bookstore, any bookstore.  Go to the self-help section.  Gaze on the hundreds if not thousands of different books that are present to "help" with any situation that you may be facing.  You will find a lot of them.  Some of them have horrible titles like  "_____ for Dummies".  Trust me when I say, God did not make you a dummy.  But he did make sure that you have the best help book of all - the Bible.  Notice that I did not call it a self-help book.
Asking for God's help is your second step to breaking your cycle.  The most misquoted bible scripture is "God helps those who help themselves."  Guess what, it's not in there.  But you will find countless times where you are asked to lean on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)
For many of us, we have trust issues.  We also live in a society where we are taught to stand straight, stand tall, and stand alone.  As a boy, I was told countless times to grow up, quit acting like a baby, big boys don't cry.
It takes humility to say that you are powerless over the entanglements in your life and to truly give them over to God.  If you review your cycle right now, what are those things that you think you are keeping in secret away from God's prying eyes?  God knows every thought you think before you think it.  He knows your issues.  He awaits for you to bring them to him.
Following God's word is a third step to breaking your cycle.  James 1:22-25 says 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does. (NIV)  God has given us so much.  He gave us the world we live in.  He has given us the air we breathe.  He gave his one and only Son as a bridge between man and God, He gave us the Holy Spirit and the Word to convict and guide us.  He also gave us a choice.
As we have seen in the lives of the children of Israel and in our own lives, without help, we can not break the cycles which entangle us.  But we have the greatest help ever found in our Lord Jesus Christ.  He can light a path for us, if we are willing to break those bonds that entangle us.  If we are willing to choose him as he has already chosen us.
Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (NIV).
Will you let God help you break your cycle?  Will you humble yourself before the Lord and let him guide you?  Will you be willing to change to follow Him when the world tries to turn you away with shiny new trinkets?  Will you let His love surround you and heal you?
Just reach out your hand and take His.  Break your cycle today.  Welcome home!!
Many blessings to each of you this day.  God love you.
Pastor Jim

Sunday, September 19, 2010


James 17 - 18 says: "17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." NIV

The Bible often compares goodness with light and evil with darkness.  We live in a world of perpetual darkness, often of our own design and efforts.  The freedom that God provides, we often turn our noses up at in a moments glance.

We are granted God's grace through the sacrifice of his one and only Son.  Many of us have taken those wonderful steps to ask Jesus into our hearts to guide our lives.  Yet in times of struggle, instead of running to him, we hop in our cars and drive away as fast as we can (figuratively speaking).

One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is James 19 - 20 "19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." NIV

This anger that is generated from talking too much, listening too little, and letting our mouths write checks that we often pay without funds in the bank, is one of the main vehicles that the devil uses to drive a wedge between us and the glorious gifts that God provides.

Think about a time today when you could have used this principle;

What about yesterday?

Last week?

Last Month?

A rumour, some gossip, your feelings were hurt, you were not heard, somebody else got something you wanted, you did not get something you wanted, a memory of past pain resurfaced.

We live in a society where "speaking your mind" is encouraged.  While I am not advocating that one should never speak, I am advocating that what you say should be pleasing to God.

I have taught several classes on professional boundaries and one of the tests for employees to try their statements against is "Would I repeat this in front of: another client, their parents, my boss, etc." 

What James strives to remind us is to take this stance with everything that we say.  And remember, God knows what you are going to say before you say it.

There are many great directions from the Lord in the Bible for mankind to follow. 

Matthew 18 - 20: "18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." NIV

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love" NIV

There are more, but one of the most challenging comes again from the book of James.

James 22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO what it says." NIV

Think of all the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.  You have life everlasting.  Life will not be easy, but you have the Counselor of all Counselors, you have the King of all Kings, you have the greatest Defender of the weak to walk with you.

You have been granted the authority to carry forth the word of Jesus Christ to all nations.  You have been challenged to share his love and his grace with those who do not know him.  You are commissioned to open your arms to those who would rather smack you than talk to you.

Follow the light of the Lord. 

Open your ears.

Open your heart.

Guard your tongue and your anger.

Let God's love and grace flow through you.

Someone around you needs the enlightenment of God.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is a friend?

Have you ever taken the time to look back on life and wonder "Where are those friends who said they would always be there?"  Where are they now that I need them most?  Were they really friends or just acquaintances?

In today's modern world, the word friend is too easily tossed around, similar to another word love.  The social connection  websites phenomenon have helped create this facade of friendships, yet it seems that the world can be a very lonely place.  Even for those with many friends.

What is a friend?  How do we make them and keep them?

The Bible offers us a great example of friendship with Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel 18. 

Jonathan was such a friend to David that he gave him the clothes off his back, his sword, his belt.  He gave David his love and affection.  And when the chips were down, Jonathan warned David that his father Saul was going to try to kill him.  Jonathan stood up to his father in defense of David.

What a friend!

You see, friendship is much like any other relationship,


It takes a lot of work.  That is if you want to get anything out of it and actually have friends that are more than just status symbols on Facebook.

Creating and maintaining a friendship takes quite a few things, but I will focus on 4.

Friendship takes:

1. Investment - Investment comes in many forms.  The most important investment is time.  In order to keep friendships alive and well, you have to invest time into them.  While you can not do this and perhaps pick up on an old friendship down the road, it does not have the same pizazz as one that you are continuously putting effort into.

2.  Committed investment - Committed investment means that you have to care about your friend. Have you ever been in a relationship where you (or the other party) only talked about themselves.  They never really ask about what you need and neither do you?  Committed investment is about caring and sharing and loving in good times and bad. 

3. Vulnerability - This is in your committed investment.  Have you ever had that friendship where you could share your darkest, deepest, most painful moments?  Not only that but they didn't run away and stop speaking to you?  They did not judge you?  They simply loved you?  Have you taken that chance?  If they do run, is that the friend you really need?

4. Mutuality - Somewhat referred to in the committed investment.  True friendship is a two way street.  It is based on mutual love and respect.  It is an ability to both share openly.  To have the ability to challenge each other to grow and to be more than you thought you could be.  A willingness to put the other one first.

Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (NIV).  While many use this as only a statement of how men should hold themselves accountable, I also believe that this one little statement helps us transcend the bounds of friendship as well.

Who are your earthly friends?  Have you put the work and effort into your relationships that you need to in order to forge bonds and share God's love?  What do you need to do to repair some that you have damaged?

How friends behave has definitely changed throughout the years.  I remember the work that my Grandparents put into their friendships.  They played cards together every week.  They alternated houses each week.  They got together for several hours an evening and eventually they played cards.  They went to flea markets together every Sunday.  They broke bread together.  And when my Grandparents passed, those friends arrived, with tears in their eyes, but with joyous stories pouring from their mouths.

I want to leave you with one other thought this evening, a homework assignment if you will.  I want you to make a new friend (or perhaps reacquaint yourself with Him). 

If you do not have a copy in your house, look up "Footprints in the Sand".  You will find about 415,000 results.  I want you to read it.  This is an even greater version of love and friendship than the story of Jonathan and David.  Do you know why?  Because this one includes you and the greatest friend of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Blessings to each of you this day, God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How do you know?

One of the struggles that I have faced this past week has been the title of today's sermon - How do you know?  This past two weeks has been the first time that Get out of the Boat has been announced to more than just immediate family members.  You see, I started to feel uncomfortable, as if I had done something wrong.  This was not a feeling from God.  I have no doubt that what I am doing here has been directed by His hand.  But how do I know?  I think that this ends up being the debilitating thought that keeps Christians from doing what God ordained plan that He has for them.

That fear is what grounds us to forget that God desires us to soar.  God desires for us to do great things.  God desires that we are stretched and that because of that stretching we are able to provide glory to our Maker.

Being a person that did not grow up in a church environment, I have been astounded at the subculture that exists in the "Christian" realm.  The concept that life is more about the reward than the race.  Yet it is the race, with Jesus at your side that gets you to the reward at the end.  What is that reward?  Often that appears to depend on who is doing the sermon.  Is the reward your own personal mansion?  Is it a room in a mansion with many rooms?  Is it silver? Is it gold?  Is it a combination of all these things?  Or is heaven about sitting in constant communion with our Lord and Savior, with God, with the Holy Spirit.  Sitting together, praying together, learning from Jesus? Strikingly again, I believe it relies on who is conducting the translating.

It is much the same with hell.  Is hell divided into seven different layers?  Each more torturous than the one before it?  Is it filled with sulfur and fire?  Or is the total emptiness that is present when God is not?  A total blackness, devoid of all emotion, feeling.  Devoid of love and grace.  Again does it rely on the translator and translation?

How do you know?

The answer may be simplistic in form, but drastic in the depths of its requirements.


Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)

Two words describe faith: sure and certain.  These two qualities need a secure beginning and ending point.  The beginning point is believing in God's character - he is who he says.  The end point is believing in God's promises - he will do what he says.  When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we do not see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith. (Student application Bible)

When God calls you to do something how often do you turn away?  How often do you diminish what He is doing in your life?  How often do you not give Him the glory of what he has and continues to do for you?

One of the most difficult things I have struggled with recently is why would God choose me?  Then today it dawned on me about faith.  It does not matter.  God has directed me to do it.  So therefore, I am compelled to do it.  My faith says that I must follow what God has directed me to do.  And in doing so, let me act as foolishly as I can for God. 

Ephesians 5:18 - "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit".  (NIV)

2 Samuel 6: 21 - 22: 21 David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appinted me ruler over the Lord's people Israel - I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." (NIV)

When you start to doubt God, I have some passages for you to read about faith.  Read Hebrews Chapter 11.  Use this as a jumping point to go back through the Bible and learn more.  For those that do not remember, Hebrews 11 recaps some of the greatest cases of faith from the Old Testament.  True men and women that embodied the principle of faith.

When you think that those around you are jeering at you, doubting you, making fun of you, and that you look foolish, ask yourself - "Am I doing what God wants me to do?"  If so, be willing to celebrate even more foolishly.  If not, ask Him and be willing to follow his directions.  Then celebrate his glory.  Be willing to make a fool of yourself for Him.

God loves you.  God desires a relationship with you.  That is why he sent Jesus to save us.

Give thanks that God has given you a purpose, a plan, a mission in His name.

Ask God to guide you.

Praise Him through song and dance. 

Honor Him with your words and deeds.

And again Give Thanks.

Blessings to each of you.  I love you.

Pastor Jim