Exciting Opportunities

Several weeks ago, I had something fun and exciting happen to me, and its something that I really "relished"...

I got to have an up-close and personal tour of the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile.

Yes, folks, that makes me close to celebrity status.

I need to absolutely take a moment to tell you what happened and help you "catch-up" to my speed.

It was a Tuesday evening, and my wife and I were out for the evening while my kids were at home with a babysitter. While we were out, we came across two of the most wondrous sights my eyes had ever beheld.

Parked across from each other was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile and the Planters Peanut Car.
I ran over, stood between the two of them and had my wife take my picture!

That was just the beginning of my adventures for the weekend though...

The following week the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile was parked at the grocery store just around the corner from my home! I got to go over, sit inside the vehicle, have my picture taken, and receive a sticker and a Wiener whistle!

Later that same day, I ended up taking my daughter Lily over to see the mobile as well.

Feeling bad that my older daughter didn't get a chance to see the vehicle, I realized that the Planters Peanut Car was going to be at another grocery store the next day, so she and I went and got to see the Peanut Car up close as well!

It was a fun excursion, and even more fun to share it with my daughters... but a thought has entered my head that I can't seem to shake.

Something as fun as the Weiner Mobile or the Peanut Car can sometimes make us excited and bring back childhood memories...but what about something as exciting and thrilling as the return of our Savior Jesus Christ?

Do we look forward to His return as much as some of the things that we experience in life?

As a teenager growing up, one of our youth events was held at a local amusement park, and every year I would wake up with nervous anxious anticipation of the day, much like a small child on Christmas morning.

Do we get excited at the prospect and proper understanding that our Savior could come back for us at any moment? Am I living with that type of interest and hope?

Christ says at the end of Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward with me, to render to every one as his work shall be."

May we live in a state of anxiety and anticipation as we await His imminent return for His bride.

Frustrations Part 2

As I was spending the past weekend thinking about what I might write again today, I have been thinking quite a bit about what I said last week.

Maybe by comments last week were a bit more complaining about my own personal frustrations more than anything, but this morning, something struck me that I've actually been quite aware of for quite some time, but more so this morning.

In voicing my complaining and frustrations, I'm actually in all reality voicing my complaints and frustrations against God.

Because things are not going the way that I believe they should be, what I am saying is that God's ways for me right now are not good enough for me, and that I deserve better.

When you get down to the matter at hand, you suddenly realize that that is exactly what I'm saying.

Yet, to take it a step further, should not then God be angry with me for not being grateful for the life and breath that He has bestowed upon me? I find myself rather at an impasse of quick burdened humility.

How dare I tell God that I'm not content with his hand of blessing. Certainly I may not be a millionaire, but I do have a roof over my head, food on my tables, and education for my children, cars in which to transport, and so much more. Yet, I have the audacity to voice to myself, others and God my discontentment with not receiving what I think are "better blessings" from God. How selfish can I be? I'm sure I'm not alone in this train of thought, but to examine the better part of my discouragements, it has nothing to do with what God has provided for me, but much more about what I think I should be having instead.

Every good and perfect gift comes from above...

Why am I not content with His gifts? Why must I tell Him that I think I deserve more?

May I learn to be like Paul...

 Philippians 4:11
     "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:"


What do you get when you add "no gumption" to "discouragements"?

I don't know what it actually is, but its what I'm currently experiencing!

Right now I have absolutely no desire to do anything...well okay, sleep would be a nice thing, but right now I have no ambitious aspirations to accomplish anything.

When you couple that attitude along with a sense of discouragement in seemingly every aspect of life, you quickly have accumulated lots of frustration, much of which you can do nothing about.

Scripture is coming to my mind today which simply says, "Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)

In all honesty, at this point, I would rather wallow in my frustrations and misery than rejoice.

I realize it may sound like a pity party, and maybe to a degree it is, but it can be very nerve wracking to not have anything seemingly go your way.

Do you ever have those types of days?

I hate to admit the fact, that these words are coming from my heart. Trust me, I know what I am supposed to be doing. I know that I'm supposed to be loving the Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. I know that I am supposed to be glorifying my God and Savior all the time. I know that I'm not supposed to be anxious or worried about anything, I understand quite clearly that God will not give me anything beyond that which I am tempted.

Yet, our human/carnal side of life can quickly emerge in times when we don't feel as if things are going in our right direction.

More about this next week...


If you were to walk into my office you would see several of my walls covered in bookshelves, full of books. Most if I can be completely honest with you, are unread.

Books that have been given to me, books I've picked up really cheap, books that I've had good intentions of reading, but most I have to admit have not been cracked open...at least by me.

There used to be a time that I loved to read. I could finish a book in just a night or two, staying up until the late, late hours of the night. As a pre-teen/teenager some of my favorites which are considered antiques now were the Happy Hollisters, and the Hardy Boys. In fact I try to still collect them today. I have a number of them on my shelves which I plan to one day let my own children read when they get to be the appropriate ages...but words such as "keen" or "jalopy" don't really stick in their English vernacular right now.

I have books on church growth, counseling, grieving, commentaries, dictionaries, relationships, music, preaching, and other topics that are spread across my shelves.

There is one particular book though that I'm much more familiar with, and that is the Bible.

Whereas I haven't read most of the books on my shelves, the Bible specifically gives the instruction:

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8

There are many manuals and self-help books available today, and some people may memorize those, but those books only covered the particular topic that is being addressed. The Bible on the other hand, gives instructions in every part of our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

I heard once that the Bible is an acronym that stands for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth".

As helpful as other books might be, and as enjoyable as they might be to read, make sure that you are first and foremost planting yourself in the reading of God's Word.

For in that, and that alone you will have "good success".

Caffeine? Two For Me Please...

In an old television show called Full House, one of the main characters named Joey Gladstone who was a comedian, had a puppet that was a dressed up woodchuck. The woodchuck's favorite line was always, "Did you say 'Wooooood'?"

Lately for me its been Caffeine. COFFEE...or as some of my friends call it, "Baptist Beer".

I don't know why I've had such a hankering for caffeine often in the form of coffee lately, but its been almost as if its the only thing that will get me going each day.

When I was younger I avoided coffee like the plague, and I will admit that even today, I have more cream and sugar in my cup than I do actual coffee, but it seems to be my "picker upper" each day and lately also in the afternoons.

I don't think I'm addicted to the stuff like some people might be, and I'm most definitely not a buyer of expensive coffees unless its a special occasion. I've found that my Keurig seems to be sufficient, and knowing that I have a Keurig with K-cups provided by a wonderful family in my church keeps me from being tempted to buy coffee elsewhere.

I don't like to say that I "crave" coffee, but there are times that I do wake up and think about how nice it would be to have a cup.

Lately my cup of coffee has turned into my "God and I time." Yes, I open my Bible... I really can't believe that thought just ran through your mind! :) Yes, my God and I time.

Saturday morning I sat on my back deck with my Sunday sermon notes in hand and my blue M&M guy mug and enjoyed the warm weather and my time with God.

There are times that I wished I lived near a pond or had a swing on a dock!
Each summer my family attends a family camp, and the lake there is perfect to have my daily time with God!

But you know... there are days when I forego the coffee. It could be for whatever reason, but I notice that I have not had it by early afternoon when I'm starting to fall asleep at my desk.

Yet, you know, there are days that I have become so busy so quickly that I have foregone my God and I time, and sadly I don't realize that I've missed it like I can with caffeine.

I've learned that if I don't make my God and I time a priority, then I can quickly place God on a back burner and ignore the fact that I haven't met with Him.

My attitude can turn sour, bitterness can reign in my heart, and discouragement will rule supreme.

King David said in the Psalm 63:1 "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water."

I'm sad to say that often my soul doesn't thirst for God like it might crave caffeine.

My time with God is something that I should long for, something that I should desire. Something that I should crave.

Do you crave God's Word each day?

Oh The Wonders Of Spell Check

 Lamentations 3:40 "Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the LORD;"

Recently I have been the victim of the grammar police here in the church office. :P
Actually, its been my own fault for not being more careful in my spelling and punctuation, but it always causes just a twinge of guilt when someone does point out my spelling errors.

Scripture says that we should be accountable to one another, "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." (Psalm 27:17)

Even through all the precautions that I take and editing software that I use mistakes still do slip through the cracks. Whether it is a word that is not correctly spelled out such as "exam" when I meant to say, "examine", or the wrong use of spelling in a word like, "there, their, or they're" I still find myself messing up.

I use the spell check, and a program called Grammarly (yes, that is the correct spelling...I checked) that helps point out punctuation errors as well.  Yet, like I said I still find myself including misspelled words on our church website, or in our church bulletin. I will say that it is a very good thing that nobody sees my sermon notes! They might be quite horrified!

Nevertheless, spelling and grammar mistakes are not nearly as bad and as consequential as that of times in life when we mess up. Whether it be a simple misunderstanding, a large blunder, or a habitual sin problem, the consequences that we must face are much different then a little bit of red ink on a school paper.

Scripture encourages us to search ourselves out and to examine our ways.

Often times, I think we find ourselves only doing that at certain times, such as when we are about to participate in the Communion table like our church family will be doing this coming Sunday evening.

1 Corinthians 11:28 encourages us, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

But what about the rest of the month when we are out living beyond the walls of the church building. What about in our places of employment, in our homes with our families, or even when we are behind the closed walls of our own private space alone. Are we still at those times searching ourselves and examining our walk of life? Are there times throughout our lives when we are constantly having to re-evaluate and "turn back to the Lord?"

There should be...

I John 1:9 says, " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

We must be honest with ourselves, and admit that sin does get into our lives, and we need to correct it before it becomes a problem in our daily lives.

It would be a blatant problem to continue to let there be obvious spelling and grammar errors appear in a church bulletin or on our website, so why would we allow sin to reign in our lives? As followers of Jesus Christ, those who have placed our faith in the saving work of our Savior, we should walk in accordance with His Word and His command, constantly following His example.

Although we don't have a "spell checking" program in our lives to prevent us from sinning, we do have God's Word that clearly defines for us how we ought to live our lives in newness of life. The question is, "Will we allow it to impact our lives, or will we just ignore the obvious?"


Well, I've tried so hard to keep up with my regular Monday blogs, but with funerals, Resurrection Sunday and my own responsibilities its obvious that time has gotten away from me.

Speaking of "Time Getting Away" isn't it incredible how each and every single person has the same amount of exact time in a day as everyone else? I've always wondered how some people are able to be so productive with their time, and all I ever feel like I do is stare at a computer screen...

In a Psalm of Moses, he says, " So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

Teach us to number our days... I know perfectly well how to count the minutes...especially when I was working under a time clock! But, "Teach us to number our days".

If I can read into a little of the context of the passage, what I think Moses is hinting at, is that he is asking God to remind us that our lives do not last forever.

As a young person, I've often felt like I have my entire life to achieve things. I'll be honest after having turned 35 this year, I'm beginning to get a little bit nervous! I'm not really where I thought I would be at the age of 35, nor does my family live the way that I thought they would be either. I often find myself consumed with the things of this world, and the "days" and "moments" I have left to live.

When I tuck my 2 year old son into bed each night and he gives me kisses and hugs each night, and each night I hold him a little longer knowing that before long those kisses and hugs will be a thing of the past.

My oldest daughter is now 8 almost 9, and she is to much of a big kid to sit on my lap, or want to really do things with dad. Usually the things that I think she will enjoy turn out to be a dud, and I feel like we haven't bonded at all.

This year my wife and I will be married for 13 years in December. I can't believe that I have spent 13 years of my life married to this special woman.

"So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Time is slipping away through the spaces between my fingers...

At the same time though as we realize that time here is escaping away from us, we look forward to an eternity without end.

Satan does such a wonderful job constantly causing us to forget the coming future that believers in Christ have. He causes us to take our eyes off the finish line, off the prize, and look at the things around us. Much like Peter walking on the water, when he took his eyes off of Christ and placed them on the waves and wind around him he immediately began to sink.

I want to encourage you today, yes time is fleeting. Yes, soon the day will be o'er but Look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of the Faith. Remember as time seems to flash away before you, that a time is coming in the very near future where time will be no more.


"Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus and live."

The Glorifiers

One might quickly ask what does it mean to be a "Glorifier".

Well to be quite honest, at first I was a bit worried that I had actually made the word up. It doesn't immediately pop-up on the Webster's Meredith Online Dictionary page, but after some searching it is there!

The dictionary defines glorify as "to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise or admiration".

The "Glorifier" is one who glorifies.

What are the things that we glorify?
Today we glorify our homes, our businesses and careers, our cars, our relationships, our hobbies, we glorify each other, our possessions, our sports teams, our money, our time, and so much more.

We glorify the most though, ourselves.

We often find ourselves bestowing honor, praise or admiration on ourselves, and if it is not we ourselves bestowing those traits upon ourselves, it is we ourselves working hard to get others to pour these accolades upon us.

We seek popularity, we seek raises, we seek promotions, we seek honored promotions and recognition.

Much of what we do in this life is about obtaining honor for ourselves.

Now certainly scripture gives us guidelines about honoring others.

Ephesians 6:2 "'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise:"

Leviticus 19:32 "‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord."

Romans 13:1 "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God."

Hebrews 13:7 "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive (speaking of pastors and other church leaders)  for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."

But never do we find scripture that tells us to honor ourselves.
We live in a world where people are encouraged to honor themselves, and put themselves first, but scripture clearly says to think about the needs of others before we think about our own needs.

Yet, even while we obey scripture and honor the Word of God, we actually in fact are obeying and glorifying God.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). 

God is the one that should be glorified and we glorify Him as we obey His Word and do as He has commanded us.

We as believers are called to be the God Glorifiers. To exalt Christ and magnify our God and honor Him, and Him alone.

As we contemplate our walk with Him today, we need to ask ourselves, "Am I a God Glorifier or a Self-Glorifier?"


The Unknown

The Vast Unknown

Often times when I sit down in front of this computer to type out my Monday blog, I stop for a moment and pray just to ask the Lord for something to write about. 

I don't purpose to write about anything in particular when I sit down many times, but I just let my hands float over the keys and type about what the Lord might bring to mind. 

Some might say that is dangerous, others might praise me for the freedom to write about whatever I chose, but to be honest, as I sit down today, I really am unsure of what to write about. 

I sit here with many different things on my mind, and I'm thinking forward to planning our church's Vacation Bible School coming up in July, I'm thinking about the upcoming Faith Baptist Bible College Choral Program on April 2nd, and our Faith Baptist Bible College Orchestra and Handbells Concert Program on April 9th. I'm thinking about our special Resurrection Sunday Sunrise Service at 6:45 AM on April 16th followed by our breakfast at 8:30 AM and our Regular Morning Service that day at 10:30 AM. My mind wanders to the upcoming Business Meeting we will have in April as well. 

Also on my thoughts are the upcoming New Church Members class I will be teaching, which will be followed by our Baptism Class, and then a new Men's Class starting later this spring that I will be organizing and teaching. 

My heart is also being tugged by the recent home going of a friend of mine's wife, as well as a wife of one of our church members who has recently been placed in hospice waiting to see her Savior face to face. I'm struggling with the fact that although it is for the Lord's glory I will soon be saying, "Good-bye" to a good friend of mine that I have grown close to over the past three years as he and his wife will be going to the mission field of Peru, and another wonderful family of our church will be moving to Denver the exact same week in April. 

To admit that I'm a little overwhelmed might be an understatement. 

Unless you are a pastor, you may never completely know the heartache and types of struggles that leaders of a flock of God can go through. 

Yet, as scripture says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Sufficient... an interesting word to chose... definition: "enough or adequate"

In my personal opinion, I would almost say, "More than enough for the day is its own trouble." 

To think about the number of decisions that we make on a daily basis, and the woe and consequences often times that those decisions alone can provide to combine that with the decisions that we have to make yet for tomorrow, the day after, and as far into the future as we are planning, more than enough are those problems! 

Obviously planning is a big part of our lives, and things must be taken into account.... but how often do we worry about something that we have absolutely no control over? 

I'm thankful that regardless of the mistakes that I make, the consequences that I might face in my daily life, and my downfalls that I'm still held in the hand of my Savior, and nothing can seperate me from His love. 


The Big Question...

For most people, when they hear someone say that they are going to ask the "Big Question", it refers to a marriage proposal, but I would argue that there is an even bigger question that gets asked much more often, and much more frequently by both married couples and singles alike.

It is the question, "What if?"

These two simple words, combined together in this short phrase are the instigators of hundreds, thousands if not even millions or billions of hours of worry in the lives of people today. 

These two words spark curiosity, doubt, worry, fear, and so many other mixed emotions. 

They tend to spur within them individual emotions that then lead to irrational motives of actions, often disrupting their lives and relationships over the fear of something that has never even actually happened. 

"What if I had been there?" says the father who lost a daughter in a car accident.
"What if I hadn't paid that bill?" says the mother who has no money for food for her children.
"What if I had said this differently?" says the young woman who just lost a job interview.
"What if she is cheating on me?" says the newly married husband.
"What if I had just been different?" says the child who's parent just put them in a foster home. 

They say that "Hindsight is always 20/20 vision," and sometimes it is, but it can also leave us grasping for answers to questions that are unknown. 

Scripture says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Prov. 3:5-6

If you're familiar with the Bible you have probably heard this passage referenced before, and may even have it memorized.

To trust in Him means to put our faith in Him unwavering. There is another passage of scripture in the New Testament that says something very similar. 

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, or "Don't worry". 

I don't know about you reader, but even for this pastor, that is a hard thing. 

Why is it a hard thing? Because we have that so trendy little two-word statement we were referencing a moment ago. "What if"?

Part of the problem is is that we don't necessarily NOT trust God, but we question our circumstances. 

We find ourselves willing to submit ourselves to God for the eternal preservation of our souls, but we then hesitate to believe that He will provide our needs, or lead us through the valley of death. 

We need to learn not to question God and His plans for us. We will never this side of heaven understand why He has us go through...but we know that for whatever His plan is, it's for His glory.

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the Earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

A Catalyst For Change

"def. - an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action"
(Webster's Dictionary)

With the understanding of what a catalyst is, we have to decide something for each of ourselves.

When it comes to change in our lives, in our families, and in our churches are we a positive catalyst or a negative catalyst. We need to understand that each of us, no matter what our thoughts or opinions might be, are a catalyst of either one or the other. The choice though lays upon our shoulders.

The world is constantly in flux with change. Change in technology, change in medical advancements, change in economies, change in governments, etc. Change is always around us, and we too are agents of change.

Imagine being an individual that discovered the cure for cancer. You would be a HUGE positive catalyst in the medical field, but you would also be a huge catalyst of change in almost other area of life as well! Technologies would change, economies would change because people would no longer be dying from cancer, governments would change in regards to leaders and healthcare, even our families would change because even now so many families have lost loved ones because of cancer, or have families members suffering because of it.

Imagine having the desire to have the knowledge to change the world in such a way!

Now imagine having a desire on a personal level to lose weight and be in better health.

Your desire doesn't affect the medical world, or the technology world, nor world economies or governments...but it does affect you and your family. Your desire to change comes with a catalyst. Some might call it a will power. You have a desire to change your world, and it is a positive catalyst. Yet, at the same time, although you have that desire, maybe you don't have the personal will power to get off your couch and exercise and eat healthy. Your lack of will power would be a negative catalyst.

Did you know that its true also in the body of Christ the church?

Each and every one of us affects the church. We may notice it, and we may not, but individually as individuals, we all impact the church, and we impact it with either positive catalysts or negative catalysts.

Imagine where the church of Christ would be today if every believer in the church were a positive catalyst of change. Not just change for change sake, but they truly honestly, and personally wanted to make an impact for God upon this earth for His glory and for His honor. Imagine if every believer were totally sold out for the gospel, and they served in the church, the shared the gospel with their family and friends, they built relationships at work with people to find opportunities to share the gospel, they did everything within their ability to glorify God. Imagine where the church would be today.

Now let's focus on the reality. In our real world today, not everyone in the church is a positive catalyst of change. There is unfortunately, plenty of negative catalysts present as well. Comments such as, "We've never done it that way before." or "That's not the way Pastor so and so used to do it." I don't believe I really need to give you more examples because I think you already know what I'm talking about.

Often times in our churches today we struggle to find people to serve in different capacities simply because they are refusing to be positive catalysts of change. If as positive catalysts we were all in this together for the glory of God, there would be no negative catalysts to hold the church of God back.

So the question has to be asked, and answered then by each individual person... "Which am I?"
Am I a positive catalyst that helps change happen quicker, or am I a negative catalyst that causes the church not to change?

Ephesians 4:15-16
"But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."
QUESTION: Are we building or tearing down according to the type of catalyst that we are?

Be The Obedient

John 14:15 "If you love Me [Jesus], keep my commandments."

As a child growing up, I remember my sisters often times getting into fights with my mother. I'm sure from time to time as I grew up in the adolescent years, I did the same, but there was a line that I remember my sisters using quite often.

The line was simply, "I don't love you anymore!"

This statement was usually made after my mother instructed my sisters to do something that they obviously did not want to do. Regardless, though, my mother almost always won the argument...or my father finished it when he got home from work.

As I think back even just on the past few days, about the number of times I myself have broken God's commands, I have to marvel at the fact, that never has God ever said to me, "I don't love you anymore."

To think about the fact that daily I break God's commands, and yet He still whispers in my ear,
"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love..." (Jeremiah 31:3)

To think that He cannot lie, and therefore with a promise of everlasting love, I will forever be loved, and be one day held in the arms of my Savior for all eternity.

To understand the fact that nothing I can do can draw me away from the eternal love of God, now that I have been redeemed by the blood of the sacrificial lamb of Jesus Christ, stuns me into a state of amazement.

To realize that I personally could go and do the most horrific things that an individual could dream up. I could kill, steal, maim, and so much more, and still somehow be held in the confines of the love of God.

I know according to scripture I am not to do those things. Those are things that God desires I not do, but even if I did, I would still be forgiven and granted a seat at the marriage feast of the Lamb in heaven.

But maybe I need to understand that the reason I don't do things is more than just because I've been commanded not to. Maybe there is a deeper underlying reason why I don't just go out and do those things that I know I ought not.

Maybe it's because I understand that I am called not to just obey my Savior and His instructions, but that I should be totally devoted, and completely "sold out" to Him and Him only.

As a husband, I have a wife that I absolutely love and adore. There are plenty of other guys in the world today, that "love" their wives, but because they are not totally sold out and devoted to their wives, they can quickly find themselves in positions of compromise. Affairs and other relationships might arise if one is not devoted solely to their spouse.

We all know that affairs are something that can bring great pain, and can rip families apart. We all know that it is something that we should not be doing, but yet so many people, including Christians, find themselves entertaining the very thought because they are not devoted.

When it comes to Christ, we know not to kill, lie, steal and so forth because we are specifically told not to. Exodus 20. But beyond knowing that we are not supposed to, we find ourselves under the love and care of the very one who created us, and yet laid down His life for us.

When we understand the devotion that God has towards us, we find ourselves, not wanting to just follow a set of rules and laws, but rather please the one who gave Himself for us.

May we be devoted like He is towards us.

Surprised By Death

This past Saturday morning, I received a phone call that was one of the last phone calls that I had ever expected to receive that day...

Before I tell you what the phone call was about though, let me give you a little background...

Last spring I received a phone call from a very good friend of mine that was part of the church in Kansas City where I had my last pastoral ministry. I served there for eight years, and this young man at the time, was one of my youth group members, and was also one of my right hand men. Every time I needed something, I knew that I could call him and he would be there help. We spent hours working on my car, working on projects at the church, decorating the church for VBS until 2 AM, service projects for outreach, and so much more. I knew I could always call him and he would be there.

The phone call I received last spring, was a request from him to come back down to Kansas City and perform his wedding for he and his fiancé. It was such wonderful news! I was so glad that God had brought a young woman into his life that would love him and that he could love.

As I got to know the couple over the following months it was so apparent to me that they were meant for each other. Both practiced selfless love towards one another, they were godly individuals, both beginning to get involved in a local church, and always serving others. It was truly a match made in heaven.

Fast forward seven months to this last Saturday morning, when I learned that in an act that only God Himself could explain, God chose to take this young man's wife home to glory. She was 20 years old, and seemed so very young, but shined with the light and love of Christ wherever she went.

At first sorrow and grief swept over my heart for my friend and his circumstance. He had waited so patiently for God to bring the right woman into his life. He had and was serving Christ so faithfully.

But then the questions began to arise in my mind. "How?" and then, "God why?"

The how was simply based upon God's decision to take her.
He is a sovereign God, this world is His creation, it was simply His choice.

But then the question, "God Why?" arose. My thoughts went to an online sermon excerpt video that I saw on facebook a few days ago that a friend of mine had posted, where the speaker was saying that often we do ask, "God Why?" The response that the speaker said on behalf of God was simply, "Why not?" Why should it be someone else but you? Out of all the sin that I have committed against God, why has He not extinguished my own personal life, but instead has given me another chance for worship and service.

At first I thought to myself, that is a very harsh statement to make at such a time like this!

We demand answers often times, we want reasons. God why would you do such a thing like this? Why would you seemingly destroy this young man's life? Why would you end this beautiful young woman's life so abruptly? For what purpose? For what reason? God it's not fair!

We don't often understand what it is that God is doing, nor do we during this lifetime necessarily deserve to know. But what are we called to do? Trust God.

Many unbelievers say that believers say that because we lean on God as a crutch to in a sense hold us up. Well, if God is a crutch, then I want a bigger one. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

That verse is not a suggestion, nor is it a word of advice, but it is a command, but notice its not only a command, but also a promise. He will direct your paths. He will strengthen you. He will give you grace.

James 4:10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
1 Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
Nahum 1:7 "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,"
Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Four years ago, my sister was in a car accident and experienced severe internal damage. Being placed on a ventilator, she was declared "brain dead". When the accident happened I was 12 hours away by car in the middle of no-where at a Bible conference. It had just snowed and the car that we had rented was a low riding car. We were forced to spend the night in northern Wisconsin while my sister was laid up in the hospital in Des Moines. I struggled that night, begging God for healing. I pleaded with God to spare my sister's life. She was a young mother with three children, and a loving husband. Why, how could it be in God's best interest to take her home? It made no sense to me. I couldn't fathom it or understand it.

Yet, the inevitable came. To be honest I was shocked, quite numb, perhaps even mad at God. How was this fair? I knew this sort of thing happened, but why my family? I couldn't understand, and to be again honest, to this day I don't understand it, and I don't think I ever will this side of heaven.

But I knew from God's Word, that regardless of how I felt, I was to "Trust In The Lord".

Isaiah 40:31 "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Today I still cry at times when I think of my sister, I still struggle at times thinking about those three days in the hospital. But with each passing day, I trust a little more that God knows what He is doing (and of course He does).

As I look back on the situation, just as I do now with the situation that just arose on Saturday, I'm thankful that both my sister and my friend's wife were born again believers. Both knew what it meant to have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, so today I know without a shadow of a doubt that both of them are in heaven today. What the situation could have looked like if they were not believers would be totally different, and is played out in similar surprising deaths everyday around our world, and will continue until Christ puts an end to death in this world.

The hope we have in Christ far exceeds our greatest fears.
The hope of eternity is far above the threats of this temporal world.
The hope we have only spurs us to focus on eternity more than it does the present.

The strength we have from Christ, comes through us following the command to place our faith in Him.

Death, although it does catch us off guard many times in life, should not surprise us. It is something that has been promised to every person because of our sins...but it never seems to come at an opportune time. It is appointed once for man to die. But for the believer to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

For now we weep in sorrow over what seems to be a lose, but we trust in the Lord knowing that for the believer we will be reunited!

What a day that will be when we see our Savior, and we are reunited with our loved ones.

Song: When We All Get To Heaven

Living Holy Lives

Living Holy Lives...

It sounds a lot simpler than it really is...

Living a holy life despite the unholy world that we live in.

How is that even possible?

Let me put it in a different picture.

Imagine being in a dark room. There are no lights, no switches to turn on a light, no match, no candle, no flashlight, nothing with which to emit a spark.

The room is cluttered with objects which are invisible to the eye in the darkness. Yet these objects are dangerous objects, and their one goal and purpose is to try to hinder you from getting to the other side of the room.

How do you get from one side of the room to the other? In basic terms... "You can't."

The is true about living holy lives in an unholy world as well. You can't. It's impossible for man to live a holy life. Yet scripture instructs us to.

Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

We can't live holy lives in this unholy world, without the Light that we so desperately need.
To cross that room, we have to have a source of light! In order to maneuver through this world as Holy believers unto God, we can only do so with the Light of God. In our own strength and abilities, it is impossible to get through this life living holy lives.

In I Peter 1:16 we are called/commanded to live holy lives. Just as our God is holy, so should we be holy. Peter is actually quoting Leviticus 11:44.

As God is holy, we are commanded to be holy, but this command I believe given to everyone can only be followed by a specific few that have the ability to do so. Without that Light, we cannot live holy lives, because the attitude and personal reasons as to why we accomplished them are not done in purity and therefore not accepted by God but in fact are repulsive to Him.

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

For a person to try to please God without faith in the sacrifice of God's Son upon the cross, our works of "holiness" are worthless. In order for us to please God, we must first believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to die on the cross for us, and took our sin upon Himself and died, raising again from the grave three days later.

Unless we first believe that, it is impossible to please God.

So how do we live holy lives in an unholy world?
By first trusting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

From there we live a life of obedience in submission to the Word of God. We obey what we are told to do, we meditate upon the Word of God and in so doing God has promised to prosper us. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Certainly, we will face challenges and tests along the way, but we know to... "...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.: James 1:2-3

It is hard for us sometimes to understand that God has a plan for our lives, and even harder for us to understand that what He is doing now is preparing us for our positions in eternity. Yet, what a thrill it will be one day to stand before the throne of God and find out what He has chosen for us to do for His glory and honor for all of eternity!

How do we live holy lives in an unholy world? Only through the power of God.

The God Who Sees Me

Genesis 16:13 "Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees (El Roi); for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me?"

Recently I have been jumping around between a number of different devotional books, and today found myself reading the page from our church's Our Daily Bread devotional, and was reading Genesis 16:1-13 which is the account of Hagar the handmaid of Sarai who was given to Abram to fulfill God's promise to Abram.

The problem with this decision for Hagar to have a relationship with Abram if you remember, though, was that that was not part of God's plan which He had promised Abram. 

God had promised Abram, that he would be the father of a great nation (Israel). That his descendants would number as the stars in the sky, and the grains of sand on the ground. In man's finite understanding of God, though, Sarai, Abram's wife was becoming impatient. Here she was almost 90 years old beyond childbearing age, and Abram approaching 100. 

How could God use her to give birth to Abram's one and only descendant? 

In her strong-willed desire to see God's promise come true, she sent her handmaid Hagar to Abram so that she might bear him a son, and a descendant as God promised. 

Upon seeing though that Hagar could give Abram that which Sarai could not Sarai became very bitter and angry towards Hagar, so Hagar fled for her life.

It was there in the wilderness of Canaan between Kadesh and Bered that God met with Hagar. A woman that was fleeing from the hand of her owner. 

Can you imagine what it might have been like for Hagar on that particular day by that spring of water? Most likely she was parched, she had no direction in which to turn, she was literally running for her life, probably constantly looking over her shoulder in fear... and yet the Angel of the Lord comes to her and promises her something that just seems impossible. 

Upon telling her to return to Sarai, the LORD tells her that He is going to multiply her descendants, just like he was going to multiply Abram's descendants. 

The Angel gives specific instructions as to how the child's name would be Ishmael. 

Today the Islamic faith traces their roots back to Abraham not through Isaac as the Jewish people do, but instead through Ishmael. 

Had Abram and Sarai only obeyed God, Ishmael and the descendants of Ishmael never would have been a problem for the Jewish people, but alas like many of our own actions done in haste with impatience, we reap the consequences of not waiting upon the Lord. 

Yet here is this woman, whom God does not destroy, nor despise, and yet He lovingly speaks to her words of promise, and she then responds by saying, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?" 

What a profound statement - El Roi. The God Who Sees... What a blessing to know that God is constantly setting vigil over us. Watching us at all times, even when we do not necessarily see Him. 

His hand of protection and provision sustain us, and give us blessing after blessing, so may we instead of finding ourselves ignoring God, seek to see Him as we know that He is watching us.