Saturday, December 22, 2007

Continual Conversations with God

I came to the realization this morning that I have not been in conversation with God the way that I should. Most people consider a conversation with God to be prayer and indeed it is. But I have come to realize that prayer is not an event but a lifestyle.

I remember in the past just going through the day in continual prayer. We all have conversations with ourselves (with our soul)... ah, come on now... admit it... you talk to yourself! Continual prayer is just letting the Holy Spirit in on my conversation. Instead of a two-way conversation, it becomes three-way.

I have been good at allowing this to happen in my mind in the past but it seems to eb and flow in my life. Lately, I have been very good at setting aside time to study the Bible and to start my day in prayer. What I haven't been good at is praying all day long though. I made a recommitment to this lifestyle this morning in my 'prayer' :) and I ask that you also pray that I will allow the Holy Spirit into my 'self conversations' all day, every day.

Friday, December 14, 2007

External and Internal Storms

In the latter part of Paul's ministry, his is shipwrecked on the island of Malta south of Italy. The shipwreck occurred after fourteen days of 'hurricane-force winds'. The ships crew had literally tied the ship together by putting ropes around the hull. In the process of the fourteen days, they threw off all of the cargo that they were carrying, the anchors and even the lifeboat itself. I could only imagine how exhausted they all were... sea-sick so probably not able to eat or hold food down, lack of sleep, continually drenched, fearful... exhausted.

I'm sure that Paul was also probably sea-sick, tired and wet. He too was exhausted physically. But mentally, he had hope. He was told by God in a dream that he would go to Rome and he believed what he had dreamed. Although he was a prisoner being transported by Roman guards, he encouraged the others on the ship that they all would make it to safety. He had hope.

Beside external storms, we have internal storms. How often do we go through a day or a situation without hope that God will be there to help us through it? How often do we see the glass as half-empty instead of half-full with the 'poor me', 'everyone's against me' mentality?

In Paul's case with his external storm, he chose to trust in God even with all looked absolutely hopeless. His heart was at peace. Can we chose to trust in God with our internal storms? I think that we can and we must if we are to have true peace in our hearts. When you are thinking "everyone's against me", "I just am not progressing like I should", "I am being overlooked for my accomplishments" ... Where is the focus in these internal storms? I see 'I', 'me', 'my' as the focus. Should it rather be on God? If your not progressing in your job like you should, have you thanked God that you have a job in the first place? If your being overlooked at church for a position, are you thanking God that you have the ability to worship freely? If no one is calling you to just chat, have you made a call today to someone else to do the same?

Internal storms... Ones that we allow satan to create within us. They bring turmoil, exhaustion, sickness and even death if we allow. Reach out to God today with the hope that He will give you peace today. When an internal storm thought crosses your path, immediately push it aside and replace it with a praise to God. Turn it 180 degrees and make it a positive thought. It CAN be done but it takes a willing heart. That is where to start. I pray that you will start today...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Condemnation Is NOT From God

Yesterday I spoke of directing my five senses towards obedience. I ended the post by saying "I choose this day - OBEDIENCE".

I awoke this morning feeling the same feeling that I felt most of yesterday afternoon and evening... condemned. Let me explain...

Yesterday morning I my wife was showing me wedding pictures on the internet from a photographer that we may use for our daughter's wedding. As I was standing behind her viewing the pictures, she came upon a very provocative picture of a bride-to-be. I not only did not 'bounce my eyes away' (see an earlier post for the explanation), I stared. I'm not sure if I did that because I was so shocked but that should not make any difference.

I asked for forgiveness and know that when I do ask that God forgives me and separates the sin from me as far as the 'east is from the west' and that 'He knows it no more'. Yet, I felt condemned last night and this morning. I was not only remembering what God has already forgotten, I was replaying the scene in my mind (thus making me more angry at myself and feeling the need to ask for forgiveness yet again). Have you ever been there? I think that we all have been.

The very first verse that I read this morning though was Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (emphasis my own). I remember from that verse that as a Christ Follower if I feel condemnation, it is not from God but from satan. He was making me feel unworthy and feeling like God did not accept my remorse for letting down my guard. Satan condemns... Christ convicts my spirit of what is right and wrong.

After reading that verse, I basically commanded satan to scram and I now feel free! I will build my moral fences higher and once again thank God for TODAY. It is a new day to serve Him fully.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Directing My Five Senses in Obedience

I was reading in Romans 6 this morning. Paul is trying to explain the motives for right living to the Christians in Rome. He says that we should 'count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus' (vs. 11).

We have died to sin when we count Christ as our Savior. We are to not allow sin to remain in our lives. This takes a LOT of discipline in todays world. I must always be on guard - on alert for sin that will tempt me. What I see, what I hear, what I taste, what I smell, and what I touch.

My senses can carry me towards God through obedience or away from Him towards satan. I am reminded of Jame's words (James 1:14-15). If I look once again at my five senses and how they can carry me towards satan, James notes the succession to be desire --> enticement --> sin (which is desire conceived). And sin ultimately leads to death and eternity away from God.

I CHOOSE this day... Obedience.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Knowledge or Wisdom?

I used to think that knowledge and wisdom were basically one and the same. If I ran into a really smart person, I would think that 'wow, they seem so wise. They have all of the answers'. As I study though I am seeing these two terms growing further apart.

Paul in Romans (and elsewhere) speaks constantly about the condition of the heart. He says that a person can be performing all kinds of rituals, be a member in the right organizations, or can come from a line of spiritual ancestry but if the heart is not devoted, it is all meaningless. How often do I see this today as people call themselves 'Christian' and are members of a church but their heart is worldly in nature. They may have all kinds of worldly knowledge but are they wise?

Solomon speaks about wisdom all the time in his Proverbs. In particular in Proverbs 4, verses 4 and 5, Solomon says "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them." Wisdom here is not earthly knowledge but learning God's Word and imprinting it in my mind and upon my heart.

Our conscience is a moral compass that has been placed in every human being. It is a moral sense of right and wrong that affects ones thoughts and behaviors. Knowledge does little to program the conscience. It is just worldly facts that have no eternal value. On the other hand, wisdom programs the conscience to obtain a true understanding of right and wrong. It has eternal value to the person obtaining the wisdom as well as those around him (or her) as their actions will be an example of moral balance and right living.

Are you striving to obtain Knowledge or Wisdom?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Is my Spirit in Control of My Body or Vice-Versa?

In reading Paul's first letter to the believers in Corinth, I have come upon some interesting information. 1 Corinthians 9:27 is a little strange in the NIV. It starts out by saying 'No, I beat my body and make it my slave...'. I have to admit that this did not make any sense to me 20 minutes ago.

Reading the same verse in the KJV makes more sense. 'But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection...'. NOW I am starting to see what this means. I keep my body under the control of my spirit. This is directly in opposition to how the world operates. Listen to most any conversation at work or on campus, you will hear the person speak primarily about his body - about his financial concerns and recreational pursuits, his occupational goals and physical needs. (This is from Jon Courson).

Now that I am a Christ Follower though all this is turned upside down. I am to constantly place the wants, needs and pursuits of my body (my flesh) under the control of my spirit that is one with Christ Jesus. This is something that I have really been striving for lately.

One way that I have found that works for me is a change of mindset. I have changed 'I have to...' in my mind to 'I get to...'! An example for me is that starting this past month, I have made it a practice to get up at 5:30 every morning to dive into God's Word and to just spend time with God. I started out with the mindset of having to get up and it was a drudge. Lately though, I have noticed that I jump up out of bed (mind you knowing that my automatic coffee maker already has the first cup ready). I GET to spend the first several hours of my day with the Creator of the universe! What an awesome opportunity! My body (who wants to keep on sleeping) is not in control or 'on top'. I have my spirit in control of this situation. It is not always easy and I have a LONG ways to go but this is a start.

I now see Matthew 6:16 more clearly when thinking about this. Jesus does not say "IF you fast (abstain from food)" but "WHEN you fast". He knows that part of keeping our bodies in cheque and under the control of our spirit requires discipline on our part. Taking time to abstain from eating to instead spend that time praying for others. Getting my tired body out of bed at 5:30 because the King of Kings and and the Lord of Lords wants to commune with me personally.

I will strive TODAY for my spirit (under God's authority) to be in control of my will, my personality, my emotions, my all. Tomorrow morning, I will strive for the same goal.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The End of a Christian Nation - Apathy

I feel that the end of the United States as we know it is close at hand. To read and hear quotes from the founding fathers of this nation is to understand how much our fathers were devoted Christ Followers. Oh yes, you can find the one here or there but they are very rare.

Today, we have a nation that is blurring the lines of morality for its own pleasure. It is interesting though that I do not feel that the end of this great nation is at hand due to satans work outside of the church in the hearts and minds of unbelievers. No, the end of this nation falls on the responsibility of those that are warming the church pews on Sunday but living like this world the rest of the 6 days and 23 hours. Apathy among Christians will be the ultimate downfall of this nation.

As I spend more time in the Bible (THE WORD OF GOD), I am more convinced that there are very few 'grey' areas that are open to interpretation. There are a few... but areas such as homosexuality vs. sex only between male and female, sex outside marriage, evolution vs. creationism, only ONE way to heaven vs. only believing in a god... these are very, VERY clear.

Christian people are you listening?!? This nation is heading towards hell as we sit back on our rears and do nothing! Stand and be a Christ Follower! From 2 Timothy 1:7-8 in the Holy Bible, Paul is saying to Timothy "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God (speaking of the Holy Spirit), which is in you though the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. DOES THIS SOUND LIKE "SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING???"

I am sick and tired of people telling me that my faith is a personal thing and I should keep it to myself. Yes, it is personal but that personal relationship to my God gives me an intense desire to see the lost with the love of God. I can't just sit back and watch them tumble towards hell. I must do SOMETHING. Please join me...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sign Posts - Are We Listening?

I read about Christ's crucifixion in two of the gospels this morning. It was hard to read and yet I am awestruck with the love that God has for us. Over and over and over again, He is saying 'here I am'. He is pleading with us to follow Him for eternity but with the love that only He can have, He allows us to make the decision.

The Bible is chock full of prophesy ... sign posts of things to come. Many, many, many of the prophesies of the old testament come true in the new testament. Many more have yet to pass but I am assured that they will indeed happen. The Bible is the Word of God... all of it and God cannot lie. Therefore it will happen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Am I Listening?

I have read all of one sentence in Matthew this morning and I am aware of God saying... "Are you listening to what I'm saying"? Jesus is talking to His disciples saying "As you know, the Passover is two days away - and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." (Matthew 26:1)

Here is Jesus speaking to His disciples and it could not be any more clear... at least to us. You see we know what happens. How often is God speaking to us just as clearly and yet we hear only what we want to hear. This is quite convicting to me this morning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Will There Be A Tomorrow? TODAY IS THE DAY!

I was reading in Matthew 24 this morning about Christ's second coming. We are to be on our guard. to be vigilant in our watch. But not only that, we are to be tending to the responsibilities that God has placed in our care. I believe that that means that we are to be always tending to the the souls of the people that God has placed within our circle of influence. How will I minister to them today? How can I show God's love? How can I tell them that time is short and that He will come again SOON to collect His children unto Himself? We are told that as birth pains increase in intensity and come at closer intervals.... so will the signs showing the second coming of Christ. Wars, rumor of wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters will increase. Godlessness will be rampant. The elect will have their eyes on Israel looking forward to His second coming.

I don't have time to mess up today. God has given me today to serve Him and I will do so with all of my heart and with all of my strength.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Please God or Please Man?

I just spent a weekend on a retreat with 170 men from my church. Our focus was on a verse from 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.)

What a tremendous weekend to rest and reflect on where I am today and where I see that God wants me to go. A major revelation came to me over the weekend on how I focus myself. It is really important to me that those around me have a favorable opinion of me. Now keep in mind that it is not everyone but those whom I respect, I also seek their respect of me. People that have a Godly character I long to have them say 'good job' or 'well done'.

That in and of itself is not bad but this weekend I came to the realization that I was placing this before seeking to please God. Now if I'm seeking approval from Godly people isn't that the same? NO WAY! Even the pharisees did that in Jesus' time. They paraded around seeking the approval of man but could care less for God and His approval of their thoughts or actions.

Starting this weekend all of that is changing... I am seeking GOD's approval first. I know that He is right beside me (even now) and His Holy Spirit dwells within me.

It reminds me of a scripture verse...

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Satan's Attacks - Cower or Fight?

This week has been a classic example of how satan can attack me and my marriage. Through many small issues throughout the week, he has created an enormous amount of friction between me and my eternal love. None of these issues by themselves would hardly even get a glimpse but piled up together, they have created all kinds of turmoil.

My wife and I have become short with each other... we have been taking words and issues way out of context... we have both been dealing with feeling inadequate towards each other as well as towards the missions that God gives us each day. You know, the bottom line is that it has been a really stinky week as far as our relationship is concerned.

It is often said that if your on a mountaintop to hang on because there is only one way to go and that is down. Down, down, down to the valley's of life. Down in the valleys where the scenery is not as spectacular but it is where things bloom and grow. Several weeks ago we were on that mountaintop. We rode on a Dinner Train and spent an incredible weekend together. We laughed. We praised God. We dreamed. We planned. We focused on the trinity that makes up our marriage (myself, my wife and God).

I also have come to know that spiritual attack from satan is a true sign that I (we) are on the right track. Well if that is the case, we must be doing God's work because we have been attacked. Spiritual warfare is not new to me but I look upon it in a different way than I used too.

In the past I have tended to cower and play the weaker role waiting for the attack to cease. I 'holed up' within myself saying little and doing very little but having a humongous pity party in my soul. This past week, my soul has wanted to take that path and I have taken a couple of steps down it several times in the past couple of days.

But no more, satan! I'm standing my ground. I'm standing on the Rock... the Rock of Salvation in Jesus Christ. As spiritual leader of my marriage and family, I will NOT let my anchor be set in this world. It is steadfast in God's promises and God's oath. I do not need to drift in pity and sorrow. I WILL rejoice in the eternal strength and allow Jesus to embolden me to fight the battle with His strength and not my own. I have decided to trust God and live with hope... even in the storms of life. GOD WILL COME THROUGH!

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Jesus Christ (John 16:33)

Do I choose the doubt that satan places in my path or the faith that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. I choose faith!

Do I choose the anxiety that satan throws at me or the contentment that God has everything under control. I choose contentment!

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

That reminds me of my very favorite verse in the Bible... my 'life verse' so to speak...

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)(emphasis my own)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Finding the Gifts in Everyone

I am struck this morning as to how we as individuals in our society in America look and thus treat others around us. We see some people as 'important', we see others as 'busy', we see yet others as 'worthy'. But how does God see us?

The Bible in so many verses tells us how much God loves us and cares for us as His children. I am a father of two so I can understand that feeling. I love my daughters more than words could possibly ever express. It is a gut thing... nothing that can be placed into words. If God loves each of us in that manner, shouldn't we at least attempt to view others in like manner?

How often do we see someone in a job that we consider menial and say to ourselves 'they probably deserve it'. Other times we get upset with someone and think to ourselves 'wow, how dumb are you... you can't even do that'.

How dare we as followers of the one true God and savior, Jesus... How dare we treat HIS children in that manner. My heart breaks for those whom society sweeps to the gutter. The thing is through... I am guilty of doing the same. God, please forgive me.

I can think of a family where there is a lot of talent except for one. "Why can't you be like your brother or sister?" is the common phrase for that one. He doesn't know why he can't be like them... he only knows that he isn't them... God made him unique with special gifts of his own.

I can think of how upset I got with a checkout clerk at a local store because she needed the bar scan to enter a sale in the cash register. "I told her the price... that should be enough", I thought in my mind. Yet, she is trying to the best of her ability to do her job as she was trained. God also made her unique with special gifts of her own.

Shouldn't we be all about showing the love of Christ to others so that they will want what we have found? Shouldn't that love be shown in acceptance at least of the person (but maybe not their actions if they are contrary to God's Word). God loves them as a child of His. As Christ followers shouldn't we do the same?

God, help me to be more sensitive to those around me. Help me to approach others seeing them through your eyes. Help me to show them your love. God, help me to be the man that you have called me to be.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today is New Day!

What a crummy week I've had. I've been low on self-esteem all week and my heart has just not been in sync with God and what He has been calling me to do each day. I'm not sure why but I do KNOW that I should no be striving to get my 'self-esteem' from this world. Even my loved ones will let me down on occasion. We are all human... it happens.

My self-esteem should be coming from God and God alone. Luke 13:22 - 28 speaks about the narrow door. There are so many that think that 'being good' will get them into heaven. Others think that church membership or warming a pew seat on Sunday morning will get them into heaven. It is ONLY a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that will lead you through the narrow door.

It is time that I get off my duff and stop having a pity party for myself. People are dying everyday without a relationship in Jesus. They are thus condemned to an eternity in hell... eternal separation from God. I cannot let this day pass without being obedient and sold out to God and being responsive to His leading.

Today is a new day...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Does My Way Always Have to be Right?

Yesterday was a day of expanding my boundaries. You see, I'm a person that tends to do things in a set pattern or fashion and do not venture far from that path. This can be helpful at some times but limiting at others. In the areas of integrity, it helps to set up fences that help guard my integrity (see October 1 post). In these instances, I need to do it the same every time.

Where it is a problem though is in areas where the alternative method of doing something isn't wrong or incorrect... its just different. Truth be known, many times the alternative way of doing something is better!

I had two such instances of this yesterday. I had someone assist me in ushering yesterday in church and she did her job differently than my usual assistant. It was fine and she did very well but I was all torqued out of shape because it was different. (I hear me telling myself to 'Get Over It'!)

Yesterday afternoon was a time of great bonding as a family as my wife, daughter and I worked on a fence in the front yard. I so appreciate their help but felt tension on the inside when something was not done exactly as I would have done it. I'm sure that they felt that tension also. Here they are helping me and I'm not able to bend. How much better would the bonding moments have been if I was flexible on the things that just really don't make a difference in the long run. I'm sure that there would have been more laughter and just plain fun.

Help me God to be flexible and not rigid on the things that ultimately just don't matter in the long run.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Doing things 'Well'

"He has done everything well." This was said by the people of Decapolis when they were speaking about Jesus after seeing a miracle. Decapolis was considered a gentile and pagan city of cultures from ten regions. Yet, many of these people look at the heart of Jesus and see Him for who He truly is.

If I am to use Jesus as my model and since I take on the term 'Christian' (meaning Christ-like), am I doing everything 'well'? Do my actions model my heart or do they model what I want those around me to think?

This is a real struggle for me as I want to please those around me. I want to be steadfast for God and dedicated to Him but my flesh wants to please. If I'm around other Christ Followers there is no problem with this as those around me are the same as my heart.

The problem comes when I'm in the workplace where those, maybe even those I respect, do not have the same heart for Christ as I do. I want to please them with my knowledge of the subject at hand or working through a situation. The problem comes in that I must stand on my foundation in Jesus to work through things and they are using worldly wisdom.

I guess the end-result comes down to this... WHO do I want to please? My answer must always be Jesus... in EVERY situation. Easier said than done. I can only do this by dedicating today to follow Jesus in every instance and every situation. Tomorrow, I will do the same. Continually drawing closer to my agape love of Christ will draw me closer to my wife, my family, my friends and the lost around the world that are hurting and looking for answers.

I want to do things 'well' for God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Little to Offer But Enough for God

My bounds are being stretched in many directions. I am a person of routine. My wife and family laugh (and sometimes grumble) about my routines. I wake the same time every morning, I go through basically the same process. I try to go to bed at approximately the same time each night. Even my weekends have a set check-off list of things to get done around the farm.

God is stretching me though. Yesterday, as I was in my office (within my home); contractors were busy looking at our house to bid on an addition to our family room. Although there is only several of us in the house, we view all of our possessions as not ours but Gods. Lately, we have had an urgency in our hearts to open our farm up to small groups and others that need to get away from the commotion of the urban setting. We feel that the extra space will help to accommodate these groups.

Then last night we had two new friends join us for dinner to talk about the small group ministry at church and expanding it in our area. By the end of the night, we felt led to begin next month!

This morning I was reading about how Jesus fed 5000+ people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. His disciples were wary and wanted to send the people away because they wanted the people to provide for themselves. Jesus though used the time for a lesson of dependence on Him. The people were fed (they actually gorged themselves) and yet twelve baskets of scraps were left over.

My routines are being challenged as God instructs me to expand my horizons for His work. I'm hesitant but after reading this story, I will allow God to work through me just like He worked through the bread and the fish. I have little to offer God, but I lay at His feet all that I have. He will provide the rest.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Integrity in the Word of God

I have been studying chapters 10 and 11 in Matthew this morning. In these verses Jesus raises a twelve-year-old girl from the dead and gives sight to a blind man. He also sends out His twelve disciples as apostles or literally 'sent out ones'.

He speaks to them about integrity in being true to their word. He tells them to be humble and open to all but at the same time to be wise and to be alert for danger.

That speaks so much to me as a Christ follower because I too am to be an apostle for God. I am to to out into the community that God has placed me and I am to be a light in the sea of darkness that is around me. I am to be bold in my witness to tell everyone that they too can be saved from their sins and that the only way to heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

In doing this though, I am to be wise to my surroundings, to be prepared for attacks from satan. If I am making an impact, I will be attacked! Do I have the armour of God on me today? I am praying that I am fully prepared for today.

In turn also as the spiritual leader of my family, pray continually for each of them. I pray that my wife, my daughters, my son (in law) and my son (not 'in law' yet) will be bold but will also be prepared for battle.

Spiritual warfare is not a game, folks; and it is all around us. I believe it. I believe it. I believe it. Look to the Word of God for your marching orders and walk in integrity for God today.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A New Week and A New Focus

A new week is upon me. With this new week is a renewed focus to be solid in my faith and looking for opportunities around every corner to study God's Word and apply it to my life.

My church has daily devotions that are based on the message given on Sunday ( and I will be studying these in detail. Additionally, I have been on and off going chronologically through the Bible and I want to give renewed focus on that time.

What is most important to me is to get this time in early in my day. I get up at 5:30 am to get my day going right and to make sure this study is done before I start my official day. Please give me encouragement so that I do not slack off. Let me know what your doing in the same manner I will encourage you.

OK... Time to study!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Focusing My Heart

I have been attending a conference for work that has placed me out-of-town and in a hotel for the past several days. My schedule (I'm a routine kind of guy) is all out of whack and other than getting up at 5:30 am, everything else is out of kilter. On top of that, I have not walked outside to breath fresh air since the time that I arrived which was 10:30 on Wednesday morning.

With my schedule being different, I also find my focus on my study time in the Bible and my dependence on Christ being different. That should not be the case and I know it. Why does that happen? I so want to be focused solely on Christ and in doing so I know that the world around me will fall into place.

I should not be looking for excuses though but should instead be looking for opportunities to do the things that I do better. My wife often comments about my routines and I know that I put too much emphasis on them. God doesn't call me to a routine life but to a challenging and exciting life. I need to look for the opportunities that He places before me and then TAKE them.

Am I preaching to myself? Sounds like it. Charlie, take this opportunity where God has placed you (me) and use it for His glory. Yes, it is different. OK, show Him how you will take that challenge and run with it.

OK, God. I think that I get the picture but I need your strength. Thanks for being there for me. I want to glorify You today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Just Got An Integrity 'Check' From My Wife!

I got a call yesterday that lifted my spirits. The leader of the Men's Minsitry at my church has asked me to be a group leader on a men's retreat that will be held in November. I immediately said 'sure, I'd love too' to the offer.

Excited to spread the news to my wife, I told her of the conversation when she got home from running some errands. Her response was not what I was looking for BUT her response was a conduit from God. She replied, "Great. Did you tell him that you would pray about it?"

Oh man... caught in making a rash decision without God's input again. I have learned that the offer may be Godly, it may be an opportunity to help His kingdom. The offer ALSO may not be God's direction for me. I know it, I know it, I know it.

During these next few days, I will be praying about this offer and will try to be open to God's leading. Please also include this in your prayers. I WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING! I WANT TO BE ALWAYS IN THE WILL OF GOD. We need to always keep our pride in check with God's will and purpose for us. Just because it is a 'good thing to do', that doesn't mean that it is God's will for me. He will use the mistakes in judgement for His glory but how much better is it when my decision is in keeping with His will to begin with!

1 Kings 22:5 '... first seek the counsel of the Lord.'

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fences to Protect Your Integrity

As I strive toward the integrity that God intends me to have, I have found that I must place in my life fences to protect this integrity. These are Moral Fences to guard my heart. I am taking part in a Leadership Class at church and one of the Character Traits of a godly leader is that they are sexually pure. This is an area that our society in America scoffs at and belittles constantly.

So, what are the moral fences that I have placed around my heart? Here is a list that I have developed over the past year.
  1. I will not turn on the TV in a motel room when staying alone. Sound silly? Well, tough beanies. I am serious about my integrity and I want my bride to be completely at ease when I am out-of-town on business.
  2. I will not drink any alcohol when I am away from my wife. I only have an occasional beer anyway but I see to much happen when people 'loosen up' after a drink or two.
  3. I will not ride in a car alone with any other women except my wife or my daughters. Is it that I'm some pervert? NO, it is just a faith issue to me to have these fences in place.
  4. I will not watch any movies or TV shows that show sex scenes. This is difficult as some happen without much warning and when that does happen, I will leave the room momentarily or even close my eyes. Again, I do not want ANYTHING to tug at my heart in that way but my bride.
  5. I use a technique that is know as 'bouncing of the eyes'. I live in Florida and women here sometimes dress pretty scantily. When someone dressed like that comes into my view, I quickly 'bounce my eyes' away from her. Its not the first glance that would get me in trouble; it is the second. I will not allow that to happen.
  6. I compliment my wife constantly to others. I also have an 'I Love My Wife' bumper sticker on my car which I have found to be a great tool that starts conversations. People constantly ask me if my wife 'made' me put the sticker on my car.

Do you have any additional moral fences that you use? Tell me about them. Maybe it is something that I can incorporate in my life as well.

Two Shall Become One

I went to a marriage conference this weekend with my bride of 26 years. What a wonderful time we had and learned so much that can make our marriage even better. I want our marriage to last a lifetime as God intended when He created it. For that to happen, we must take the time necessary to look inward as well as outward to see what we can to to better meet each others needs.

God brought to light an area that I need to make a lot of change. I have taken the role as 'spiritual leader' of my family very, very seriously and in doing so, I seem to have crossed some lines toward dictatorship (not really that extreme ... still, read on).

We live on a farm whose income comes primarily from citrus. There is some unused acreage that we want to develop in some way to help with the income of the farm but we have not come to any conclusions. Kay has often come up with ideas but I have squashed them quickly thinking that I'm the know-it-all. This weekend, I have come to the realization that on many, many subjects; I'm in fact the 'know-it-little'. I have not honored Kay's ideas as I should have. For that my precious love... I am sorry. I will try harder in this area.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Loving the Lost

I learned yesterday how important it is for all of us who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus to be reaching out to the lost around us no matter where we are or what we are doing. In Matthew 27:37-40, Jesus sums it all up.
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind'. This is the first and greatest commandment. And
the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law
and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

In our churches in America it is so easy to just wander in and wander out week by week and never reach out to those around us. But look at the second command above... if we are to truly love our neighbor (those around us in the work or social setting), shouldn't we be concerned for their eternal destiny? Remember good works doesn't cut it. They can be a 'good' person in the eyes of society and yet be heading straight down the path of eternal damnation. Do I care? I better if I truly stand on the commandments above.

God, today show me how I can reach out to someone around me. I don't want to do this under my own power though and certainly not for my own glory. I want to be obedient to You. Please open the doors and give me a gentle nudge to act... to love my neighbor as myself.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

5 C's That Can Change the World (One is CONNECT)

In church last night the 5 C's came up yet again. These 5 C's are being continually brought up because Jesus was the perfect model to change the world around us. His model can be condensed to 5 C's. They are:
  1. Commit - to be a growing follower of Jesus.
  2. Celebrate - and live the fulfilling lifestyle.
  3. Connect - to others in personal vibrant relationships
  4. Communicate - the good news to everyone everywhere
  5. Contribute - your time, passion, talents and possessions

I didn't like it at first when these were mentioned. Not sure why but I guess that it was probably conviction on my part. I was convicted that one of these C's was something that I didn't do and really didn't care to do.

Connect.... my bride of 26 years and I are relatively quiet people. Oh, we're pleasant around others but we enjoy each others company and are just ... well, satisfied with that. Oh yeah, I connect to my little family just fine. My two daughters, my son (in-law... whatever that means) and my daughter's boyfriend all 'connect' just fine. But this is going beyond immediate family and now I'm getting out of my comfort zone.

Throughout each day that Jesus walked this earth, he showed us the way to have vibrant and meaningful relationships. He had twelve others that followed Him and communed with Him. We catch very brief exchanges between this group in the Bible but I have often thought of what the everyday conversation sounded like. Imagine the laughter and the serious discussion times in your mind. I often have done just that. How was this connected community cultivated?

I would imagine that on top of the list would be transparency with all except Judas who obviously was not totally transparent. Lots of fellowship would have taken place, eating and just plain having fun together. They worshiped together and you know, even just wasted time together.

Do you remember some of the close friends that you had in middle (junior) high or high school? Do you remember the calls that you made to them? Could they have gone something like mine did? "Hey, Lawrence... what 'cha doin'?" "Just sitting... nothing much. How about you?" "Not a thing here. Just watching paint dry."

Why do we remember those relationships so much? BECAUSE THEY WERE MEANINGFUL IN OUR LIVES! My high school buddy Lawrence knew all about me. We went through good times and bad times together... ups and downs and we were always there for each other. That is what 'Connect' is all about.

If your church works at connecting people to each other in small groups or cell groups, please consider taking advantage of this. God did not place us here on this earth to tackle life all on our own. I'm still learning this but it is starting to sink in and I look forward to the day that I can call one or two guys on a fairly regular basis and say "Hey, what 'cha doin?" only to hear them say "Nothing... how about you?"


Monday, September 17, 2007

Why is God's Direction Sometimes So Foggy?

My heart is somewhat subdued this evening. Just not quite up to par.

My wife has recently taken on a career in a mission field. We are so excited that she is able to reach children around the world for Christ in a tangible way. It is with an incredible outreach organization that provides so much to so many in dire strates. We feel that the 'pay' is rewards in heaven and that God will provide. This may sound naive to some who don't trust fully in God but we have (and are still learning) to do so.

That is great but the organization has her going through training at a snails pace. Is this satan attacking through others to try to get her discouraged? He certainly has been known to work this way. I am working on encouraging her but I pray that God will move in a mighty way soon. I ask that you all pray as well.

Please also pray for my 21 year old daughter. It sounds like she may be close to getting a job but hit a bit of discouragement also today when an interview did not materialize. All we want is God's direction.

Why is that so foggy sometimes?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Transitioning of Society

I heard recently of a study by a small college about how younger people communicate with each other. Most colleges depend on their students to read their emails and yet this college found out that this does not occur. Those in their 20's are depending more on text messaging and social sites such as Face book.

I find this most interesting and a bit concerning. I am WELL into my 40's and my communications survive using email. Business associates know that they can contact me in this fashion and I am prompt to respond.

I am not familiar with Face book at all. I have heard horror stories about parents finding out that their children have been communicating with people that they do not personally know using sites such as these. Apparently each user has to invite or accept an invitation from someone else before they are able to communicate. Knowing that my adult daughter and some missionary friends of ours in Mexico use this portal, I tried to sign on this morning to see how it worked. It was all to confusing so I gave up.

So, because I don't know, I am posing a question. Once people accept each other as 'friends' on a site such as this, are they able to read each others postings and mail to others besides what is sent to them? If this is indeed the case; does anyone besides me think that this can lead to a creeping degradation of moral values for those that are not well-grounded? I remember back in grade school the game 'I dare you' and 'double dare' and each dare lead to something more extreme. If postings in social sites such as Face book can take this sort of avenue, where does it all lead?

All forms of technology can be used for good or for evil. We all know that the Internet as a whole is no exception. Therefore, I'm not criticizing this change in communication... only expressing my concerns for the misuse of it.

The bottom-line seems to always fall to where one's heart is focused and founded. "But seek His kingdom, and all (good) things will be given to you as well" (Luke 12:31)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Full-time Christian Ministry

I can't sleep tonight. This is a very rare thing for me. I know there are many who would be jealous of how well I can sleep ... but not tonight.

Kay and I spent the evening in a Leadership Class at our church (Calvary Chapel, Melbourne) It is a class that is for potential leaders within the church body to help them find where they may be spiritually gifted and then plug them into areas where they can Go, Grow and Glow! We need to be on fire for God and working in the areas that we are gifted allow us to do that. As said tonight, its like being able to run at 100% and to never grow tired.

Kay has recently entered into full-time missionary work with Samaritan's Purse working with the Operation Christian Child program. The opportunities before her are incredible to make a difference in the lives of children around the world for Christ. I'm so excited for her and am looking forward to seeing how God provides in this area.

Kay and I have thought on more than one occasion that we both may be heading for full-time ministry of some sort. Tonight I feel it more than ever before. I have always thought in my mind that I am already in full-time Christian ministry and I think that we all are as followers of Jesus. Jesus calls us to minister wherever we are in whatever we're doing. I try to approach each day that way. Some days are better than others though.

What will the future bring? Only God knows but I can take comfort in the fact that He does know. Will I someday go through training for ministry? Will I someday take a road that leads me into full-time missionary work as well?

Full-time ministry... How about you? Are you the spiritual leader of your home? That is the place to start.

As you think about this, bear in mind that Jesus may come again before your next breath! Make the most of today.

Carpe Diem!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Love My Wife

I have a bumper sticker on my car. It says "I Love My Wife". Simple in text but it creates more conversation than any I have ever seen.

Most of the comments come from men who ask if my wife made me put that on my car. I had such a comment this past week from a person who serves on a committee with me. He then asked if my wife made me put the sticker on my car when she caught me with my girlfriend. I responded "no, man... I put it on my car because I love my wife!"

A good response at the time but later I wish that I spent a little more time witnessing to this guy about the love for my wife as well as its source (God).

You see, my wife IS my girlfriend. She is all I ever need. I feel that way because I do not want to seek the worlds description of 'love' but want to only depend on God's. Jesus came and walked on this earth to show us the perfect example of love. That perfect love as abused to the point of being unrecognizable and then nailed to a cross because of His perfect love for you and for me.

Perfect love... not love as the world tries to describe or redescribe. Why would you want to have a dime-store copy of a Rembrandt when you can have the actual painting by the creator himself. I have a Rembrandt whose beauty is beyond description. I am blessed beyond all measure.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Being the Dad that God Expects

I found myself yesterday sitting on the floor speaking with my 21 year old daughter. She has been searching for direction to go in a career after finishing college and she just keeps hitting dead ends.

Something told me that this was the most important use of my time. It was time to drop everything and just listen.

You know, being a Dad... I feel that I need to have all the answers. I need to be able to 'fix' things but sometimes, I just need to sit and listen. I didn't have any answers for her and only marginal guidance. I did have a heart for her though and I do know who does have the answers... Jesus.

I sat and I listened. Yesterday was a good day...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Remember K.I.S.S?

I remember that acronym from years back when working with computers. K.I.S.S. stands for 'Keep it simple, Stupid'. I don't particularly like the stupid part but the keep it simple has some merit.

Back in the days when Jesus walked the earth the religious leaders of the day had turned the 10 commandments from Moses day to 613 rules and commands that one must obey to be 'upright' in God's eyes. Basically impossible to all including the Pharisees who came up with the additional commands.

When they tried to corner Jesus by asking Him the most important commandment, His reply was simple... Love the Lord your God with all heart, with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:38). That to me is 'keeping it simple'.

I find as I strive toward integrity that this simple response is vital to my striving towards integrity. It is a constant battle between my selfish thoughts and desires and those that I would honor God with. If I love God with all my heart, soul and mind, there are things that I just will not entertain in my heart. Selfishness, jealousy, lust, among others.

Jesus' simple commandment is all I need. You see to love God in such a way, I will keep all of the Ten Commandments and my walk will be upright and steadfast. Will I ever achieve this here on earth. No, only one could have done that and His name is Jesus. Is that reason to give up and throw in the towel? By no means!

I want to constantly strive towards that goal... to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind. I want to throw off and immediately turn away from any thought or action that may lead me otherwise. It is a constant battle but isn't that why its called spiritual warfare? Life is not easy, its hard and the battlefield is no place for wimps.

God, help me be a spiritual warrior for you today. I put on your armor and I confidently go into battle knowing that you will provide the victory.

Use me today...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Intriging Dream

I had an intriguing dream last night that I'm still trying to figure out. In the Bible in Acts 2:17 it states:
"In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old me will dream dreams."
Hmmm, I guess that this verse puts me in the latter category if we are in 'the last days' which I think that we are.

Anyway... back to the dream. I was speaking with an older women who was excited about her daughter moving to California to become pregnant. No mention of marriage, no mention of a particular soul that she was going to see. I don't know why it was California that she was going too either.

What was interesting about this dream is that she was as excited about this as if her daughter was going to the animal shelter to pick out a dog to bring home. What is disturbing about this dream is that it isn't too far from reality in today's society in the United States.

Families and marriage are both created and ordained by God. It seems like the more we move away from God's Word, the more we take all of this stuff at what ever value that our surrounding society places on it. It thus spirals downward.

I've been reading in Ezekiel lately. In Ezekiel as well as pretty much throughout the Old Testament, God is trying to move His people, the Jews back toward Him. They continually are wandering off and worshiping other gods and idols. Calamity hits and they turn back only to do the same thing all over again.

Where are we today in the United States? Where am I? I fear that God will soon allow (not create or cause but allow) great correction to take place in the United States. I can't change the direction of our country but I can take responsibility for myself today. Today God, I place myself under your authority. Today God, I give myself to you. Use me... I close with one of my favorite verses to provide my direction. "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15... Bold is my own)

What god will you choose today?

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Man of Integrity is Hard to Find

As I venture out into the blogging world I do so wanting to speak my heart hoping that it will encourage others of the same mindset. You see I am just a family man who is seeking God's heart in all that I think, say and do. I strive to see the world around me as Jesus would have me see it.

I am a husband of the wife of my youth for 26+ years and I have two grown daughters and one son-in-law. I absolutely consider myself to be the most blessed (I don't like the use the word 'lucky') person alive. I adore my wife and my family more than I could ever possibly express.

I only feel that way though because I daily throw off the things of this world that are considered important and ... well, just the way that guys are. I'm far, far, far from perfect. I have made so many mistakes in my life that I deeply regret. I know that I will probably make more. Yet, I approach today reaching for God's hand, depending on His word (The Bible), and trying my best to please Him.

I pray that you will join me on this journey. A journey to make a difference in the lives of those around me. A journey to stand up for what is right. A journey to be a man the way that God intended. Join me, will you?