Friday, October 13, 2006

Hearing God's Voice

God Speaks
John 10:27 says, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. That is plain a simple. It sounds to me like a natural order of things for those who have found "new life" in Christ. I believe God is always talking to us, it is just that we are not tuned in to what He is saying to us or we do hear His voice and attribute that communication to something our own intuition, a premonition or acquired wisdom.

There are many voices in the world and around us. That is one reason it is important to know what His Voice is and to be able to tell the difference between the voices we hear. There is great reward in knowing that our heavenly Father does communicate with us. When we hear and recognize Him, it draws us closer to Him.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Lord Goes Before Us

Deuteronomy 31:8 - The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. Hebrews 13:5 is a good companion scripture with this verse: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Thinking about these verses, how did the Lord go before the children of Israel, and the early Christians? We have a record in the Word that Israel suffered defeat many times. We know that 11 of the 12 disciples were martyred. Read Hebrews 12 to see what violence many experienced. So much for the Lord Himself going before us and never leaving or forsaking us.

Here is the problem. We interpret these verses in light of what the world considers success. We love our comfort zones and therefore, by default, interpret these scriptures to mean that our comfort zone will always be intact.....thank the Lord!!

God’s ultimate, superceding eternal purpose is to prepare us for ruling and reigning with Christ forever and ever. In that, He will never leave or forsake us and will Himself, go before us. There is no guarantee our comfort will stay intact. There is no guarantee our life will be void of pain and suffering. But there is a guarantee that the Lord is faithful and He will follow through to bring us to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. As long as there is sincere and earnest desire for the Kingdom, we will be able to say most assuredly that the Lord goes before matter what the circumstances!!

Works of the Devil Destroyed

I John 3:8 says,
So, my dear children, don't let anyone divert you from the truth. It's the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil's ways. (The Message)
Really, what are the devil's ways? What are his works? Can his works and his ways actually be careening through the life of a person who is committed to "the paths of the Lord?" Well, anyone who has been around church life for any length of time knows the answer to that question. How about the devil's ways mixed with ministry, with evangelism, with pastoral care? Can and does it exist? Yes! And the reason it exists is because the works of the devil are basically this......the self life. As long as the self life in us pushes against the plans and purposes of God, the works of the devil are at work. That is why I must decrease and He must increase.
So, the Son of God came to destroy the self life.....does that sound right? It sounds harsh, but bottom line, that is it. Only,.... He needs our cooperation to do it. We must be willing to die daily. The Apostle Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ, never-the-less I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me....."
We can clean up our act and live very moral, upstanding, yet selfish, self-centered lives.....even in full time ministry. Just ask any missionary in any foreign country (it doesn't matter how remote or poverty stricken it is) how well missionaries relate to one another in the field. Their squabbles are about as petty as those in the church back home.
The self-life can take on qualities that appear amiable, philanthropic, and optimistic, but they don't produce life-giving fruit. Remember when Jesus rebuked Peter? Peter thought he was doing Jesus a favor by scolding Jesus for the harsh thing that He had just predicted would happen.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. "Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works." Mark 8:33 (The Message)
Peter wasn't involved in any terrible crime here. He wasn't involved in some sensual illicit activity of some kind. He wasn't lying, cheating or stealing from someone. He just was not discerning how God works. There was a veil over his eyes that kept him from viewing into the kingdom of God. The veil was the kingdom of self, rooted in the works of the devil. Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil and He will destroy that veil in our lives, if we let Him.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dear American Warrior

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke

I agree with Edmund. And that is why it is so important to express appreciation and gratitude to those men and women who do step up to the plate to stand in the gap where strength, virtue and freedom are lacking. What virtue is there in remaining silent and indifferent toward those who have risked their life for the cause of freedom? There is none.

Can a person argue that innocent "civilians" are massacred in war, therefore the participants of war are guilty of murder and inhumane acts against humanity? Look how many civilians were killed at the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What does that make America and its crusade for freedom? Most Americans (liberal and conservative) would agree that ending World War II with the killing of innocent women and children was an unfortunate but necessary act.

So, how is it that liberal elements of our great country want to villanize Israel for pursuing the Hezbullah, and in the process, innocent Lebanese are being caught in the crossfire? And Israel has gone to great measures to warn the civilians in advance to protect them from the offensive. I will repeat what Edmund said,

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

So, here it is, a thank you to all good men who are and have been in harms way. Your task is thankless and relentless, misunderstood and sometimes villanized. In the heat of battle, mistakes are made and unfortunate things happen. But fear of making mistakes and missteps cannot keep us out of the fray. Keep faith dear warrior!!

Dear American Warrior:
Thank you for your service to our country and for your willingness to put your life on the line.
I saw combat in the Vietnam War. Since I am also a returned combat soldier, I know you have seen things, experienced things and done things that most people in the America to which you will return will never be able to understand.

Returning home will puzzle you. Nothing will ever be the same. This is part of the burden and the blessing we warriors bear.

We speak a language that only other warriors can truly understand. Memories and dreams will visit us for the rest of our lives. Our wounds may heal, but our scars will remain forever.
The protected America to which you return will never be able to comprehend what you have done for them. With the exception of the people who were directly touched by the attack on September 11 th , American civilians do not understand war. You and I do not want them to know what we have had to learn.

We have seen the effects of war's savagery in the faces of small children. We do not want to have to see American children wear those same, sad faces.

When you return to our America , I urge you be patient with our protected countrymen. If they jest at your scars and belittle your sacrifice, it is because they have never felt a wound. They have no concept as to how much they are in your debt.

As a warrior, you are blessed. You now understand the fragility of life. You know that each mundane moment is filled with miracles. Not knowing if each day or moment would be our last, we learned in combat to appreciate each moment and to savor every simple pleasure.
You deeply understand the concept of selfless sacrifice, of total commitment to something more important than self. You know a vintage of love that comes from a willingness to lay down your life for your friends. You have watched them do as much for you. Most people never receive this wisdom.

You comprehend friendship in dimensions unfathomed by those who have not received the sacrament of battle. Our comrades, living and dead, more brothers than our own brothers, will live within us for all time. Not every one here will understand.

When you return to America from your foreign war, you will begin to understand that we are aliens in our own land. We are travelers come home from far-flung destinations, poor in substance, rich in deepest understanding.

You must never forget this wisdom. You must never deny nor denigrate it. You and I and the very few like us, have had the high honor to have served at the very sharpest point of the spear.
We know that war must never be invoked for light and transient reasons. We understand that the only acceptable goal of war is victory. We know too well, that the road to victory is paved with blood and tears.

Thank you for your service, courage and sacrifice - and welcome home. Welcome to our warrior band.

We extend to you our hearts and hands from a thousand battlefields.

Operation Welcome Home Warrior © 2005

My Mavin

I learned a new word recently, "maven". Here is the definition:

"In network and social theory, a maven is someone who has a disproportionate influence on other members of the network"

The church, the Body of Christ is certainly a "network". And to be functioning properly in this "network", I need to be sure my Maven is Jesus Christ. When we make someone else more influential than Him, even if it is a good mentor, leader or pastor, we will not walk in His paths like we should.

I know about that verse in Hebrews that says, "obey those that have the rule over you". That verse sure seems like it is giving someone else permission to exert an awesome amount of power over another. That could not be further from the Truth!! Really, that verse is saying, "allow yourself to be influenced by those who have earned your trust." This verse was never meant to imply that anyone should have more influence on us than Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother. And this is especially true when "leaders" are walking in a way that disrupts the peace of God that is to rule our hearts (that is to be the true ruler)

Jesus has reserved for Himself to be the ultimate Mavin in our life. Here are some wonderful statements that establish this fact:


The Lord is......

In Genesis, He’s the breath of life, Exodus the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He’s our High Priest
In Numbers, fire by night, Deuteronomy He’s Moses’ voice
In Joshua, He is salvation’s choice
In Judges, law giver, in Ruth, the kinsman Redeemer

In First and Second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles He’s sovereign
In Ezra, a true and faithful scribe
In Nehemiah he’s the rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther He is Mordecai’s courage, in Job the timeless redeemer

In Psalms He is our Morning Song
In Proverbs wisdom’s cry, Ecclesiastes the Time and Season
In The Song of Solomon, He is the lover’s dream
In Isaiah He’s the Prince of Peace, Jeremiah the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel

In Ezekiel, He’s the call from sin, in Daniel the stranger in the fire
In Hosea, He is for ever faith-ful
In Job, He’s the Spirit’s power, in Amos the arms that carry us
In Obadiah He’s the Lord our Saviour
In Jonah, He’s the great missionary, in Micah the promise of peace

In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He is pleading for revival
In Haggai he restores the lost heritage
In Zechariah our fountain, in Malachi He is the Son of Righteousness
Rising with healing in His wings

In Matthew Mark, Luke and John He is God, man and Messiah
In the Book of Acts He is the Fire from Heaven
In Romans He’s the grace of God , in Corinthians the power of love
In Galatians He is freedom, from the curse of sin
In Ephesians, our glorious treasure, Philippians the servant’s heart

In Colossians, He’s the Godhead
In Thessalonians our coming King, in Timothy, Titus, & Philemon
He’s our Mediator and our faithful Pastor
In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant,
In James the One who heals the sick

In First and Second Peter, He’s our Shepherd
In John and Jude He’s the Lover, coming for His bride
In the Revelation He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords
The Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the Lamb of God
The Great I Am. He’s the Alpha and Omega, our God and our Saviour

He is Jesus Christ the Lord
And when there is no night ..........He is!

And to me He is....

Almighty ... Omnipotent King ... Lion of Judah ... Rock of Ages ... Prince of Peace ... King of Kings ... Lord of Lords ... Provider ... Protector ... Paternal Leader ... Ruling Lord ... and Reigning King of all the universe.
He is Father ... He is Helper ... He is Guardian ... and He is God. He is the First and Last ... the Beginning and the End.
He is the Keeper of creation and the Creator of all He keeps.
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times/ages. He is the Savior of the World. He always was, He always is, and He always will be! Unmoved, unchanged, & undefeated!

He was bruised and brought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and bought freedom. He was dead and bought life. He is risen and brings power. He reigns and brings peace.
The world can't understand Him, the armies can't defeat Him, the schools can't explain Him, and the leaders can't ignore Him.

Herod couldn't kill Him, the Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, the people couldn't hold Him. Nero couldn't crush Him, No one can silence Him, man's religion can't replace Him, orators & professors can't explain Him away.

He is Light, Love, and Lord. He is Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful, and Pure.
His ways are right, His ways are perfect, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me.
He is my Redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, and He is my peace. He is my joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life. I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life.

I follow Him because He is the Wisdom of the Wise, the Power of the Powerful, the Ancient of Days, the Ruler of Rulers, the Leader of Leaders, the Overseer of the overcomers and the Sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.

And, if that seems impressive, how about this?
His goal is a relationship with ME!!!

He will never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget me, never overlook me, and never cancel my appointment.

When I fall, He lifts me up.
When I fail, He forgives.
When I am weak, He is strong.
When I am lost, He is the way.
When I am afraid, He is my courage.

When I stumble, He steadies me.
When I am hurt, He heals me.
When I am broken, He mends me.
When I am blind, He leads me.
When I am hungry, He feeds me.

When I face trials, He is with me.
When I face persecution, He strenghtens me.
When I face problems, He comforts me.
When I face loss, He provides for me.
When I face death, He carries me.

He is with me always!! Nothing I can do can ever separate me from his love. Nothing is too big for Him. Nowhere can I go that He is not there .

He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time and in every way. He is God!! He is faithful, I am His and He is mine. And, here is the reason I feel so secure: God said it and that settles it. God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul!!

"Glory to God in the Highest,
Peace of earth, and good will toward men." Luke 2:14

"...that God may be all in all." 1 Cor. 15:28

..."the God of the whole earth shall He be called." Is. 54:5

Monday, January 31, 2005

Paradoxical Commandments

The Paradoxical Commandments
By Dr. Kent Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down
by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

On Strength and Courage

The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. Matthew 11:12

How do I apply this nugget of truth correctly and courageously? God spoke to Joshua and said, "Be strong and of good courage". If we are going to possess the Kingdom now, there is need for strength and there is need for courage.

I recently heard Bill Johnson speak on the incredible story of Jesus sleeping in a boat during a terrible storm. The disciples, also in the boat, were desperate, literally beside themselves in fear. Jesus finally awakened only to rebuke them for their lack of faith. Bill then made this statement,

You will only overcome storms you can sleep through.
It seems like a contradiction.....sleep and be forceful at the same time. But, that is the truth of the matter...and Jesus modeled that time after time. One of the most difficult storms to overcome in life is the fear of loneliness, the fear of being cut off from others. It is difficult to walk alone. God said in Genesis that "it is not good that man should be alone." It is a very real, legitimate concern in life.

When we can "sleep" through the seasons of life that require us to be alone, we will have become strong and courageous in ways that only God can impart.

Another thought on Strength and Courage. Sometimes being strong and of good courage includes things like face to face confrontation, verbal correction and rebuke. It sometimes includes making decisions that require risk (faith). Teddy Roosevelt made this statement that says it well:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.

I will end this notion with a statement that also must be courageously applied to life.
"We sometimes are willing to engage in a battle if we know we will win. But, being victorious in life doesn't always mean we will win. Being victorious in life means that we "played by the rules".
Paul died, most likely in prison. Almost every one of the 12 disciples died as martyrs, except John (who lost his eyes and was banished to the isle of Patmos). Jesus died a violent death.It takes courage and strength to "play by the rules" and leave the end result up to God.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


It's not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it;
It's not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it;
"Come here!" I sharply said,And the child cowered and wept.
"Come here," I said-He looked and smiled
And straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair
And the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art-
But tone leaps from the inner self
Revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether you’re mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love, and hate,
Envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger nor only out of your words-Keep it out of your voice.

Tone of voice......critical in communicating truth, discipline, instruction and love.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Words Fitly Spoken

Proverbs says that words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pitchers of silver. I'm not sure how practical gold apples are in silver pitchers, but I believe that Solomon is saying that there is great value in words spoken at the right time with the right motive and proper demeanor. The following are phrases that I have come across in the recent past that in one way or another either brought life to me or at least sharpened my understanding of something.

1. Who I am reflects where I come from
2. Whenever a man is ready to uncover his sins, God is always ready to cover them...Proverbs 28:13
3. If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible warning
4. Our level of love must equal our level of discernment (grace and truth).
5. Expert....x = has been; spurt = a drip under pressure.
6. Look to the Word of God to determine my behavior, not justify it.
7. Testimonies come after passing tests.
8. First have the promise, then hope. Then faith will come.
  • Faith works by love.
  • Faith is the substance of things hoped for.
  • We must have love and hope for faith to work.