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