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