When I read about the early church in the book of Acts, I am always amazed and excited about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of such ordinary men and women.
In my life time, I have caught glimpses of the Holy Spirit working in this amazing way, but I long to see it, like I read it in Acts. Ordinary men and women totally changed their lives and world in the span of one generation, all because of the vision of Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The really cool thing about what Jesus is saying us in this verse, is that it is both a promise and a command. There is the promise of the Holy Spirit and the command to be His witnesses.
It starts with “you will”, not “you might, but “you will!” Jesus is saying: You – ordinary will be – extraordinary. And what Jesus said became reality. We are the testimony that shouts out to the world: “Jesus Was Right, Because Here I Am!”
Now, here is the big question that you and I have to answer – “WILL WE?” Do you believe that when Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “you will”, that He was talking to you and me? I believe He was and if you believe the same thing, then that brings you to another question.
How will you live out the reality of Acts 1:8 in the world, time and space that you are living in right now? This is a question worth asking and worth answering, so take a little time, think it through and let the Holy Spirit guide and grow you!
What do you want for yourself, for your life? What does God want for yourself, for your life? I am discovering that what God wants for me and my life is much better than what I want for myself and my life. As I look back on my life, I can see where I actually kept getting in the way of what is best.
Look at this amazing passage of Scripture, it says it so beautifully: “2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:2-4
God wants grace and peace to be multiplied into and through our lives. It is multiplied as we step out of our own knowledge and into our knowledge of Him and His Son, our Savior. This allows us to yield to His Spirit and experience His purpose and plan.
His divine power has given us everything we need to live the life of Godliness that He has called us to and created us for, a life of virtue and glory. When I depend on my power, I rob myself of the opportunity to participate in the divine.
He has given us His exceeding great and precious promises, so that we might be partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that comes from the lust of the world. We have a choice to make and our choice determines where and how we will live. Notice, God does not just give us promises, He gives us His exceeding great and precious promises.
God has and wants what is best for us and our lives, lets step out of our selfishness and into His promises – we will be glad we did!
You have a very important decision to make today! Will you spend your energy planting seeds in the physical or in the spiritual? The Bible says in Galatians 6:8 “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
This is our two options: We can sow to the flesh or to the spirit, they both bring forth a harvest. The real question is what kind of harvest do you want? Think about it as you do your work and living today and make some good choices. Let’s look forward to a good harvest of the abundant and everlasting stuff of God!
Someone said: “You can’t see clearly until you appreciate fully.” I hate to admit it, but for a small part of my life, I got distracted by people’s flaws and was unable to see and appreciate their potential. If we focus on people’s flaws and miss their potential, then eventually the relationship/friendship will break down.
I am not perfect. In fact, the older I get, the more I realize how just how many mistakes I have made and am still making. Hopefully, I am at least beginning to learn from some of them. None of us are flawless, but all of us have accomplishments and potential. Many times our accomplishments and potential go unnoticed, because most of the people in our world are looking for what is wrong, instead of what is right.
When I was growing up, I used to hear the older folks talking a lot about appreciation. I think appreciation may be one of the great lost art forms of our time. To appreciate means that we make an intentional effort to look past and beyond the flaws, mistakes and mess-ups and instead focus in on a person’s value. Every person in this life has value and contribution that makes life better.
Appreciation isn’t so much about saying “thank you”, as it is actually taking the time to recognize and understand the other person’s value and contribution that they can make.
I need to get better at appreciation. In fact, I want to pull out this old art form from the past and put it into practice, but I can’t do it by myself. I need your help. If enough of us get it and practice it, then it will become a part of our nature.
Here are a few things that I am trying to do to practice appreciation for others:
1.) Accept people as they are! I don’t have to agree with everything and I don’t have to like everything about a person to find something of value to appreciate in them. Sure I want to see people grow, improve and live up to their potential, but I am learning that before I can help anyone do anything, I first have to accept. appreciate and love them.
2.) Be willing to learn new things! I am a human being, but I don’t know all there is about human beings and what it means to live and succeed as one. Since I have room in my life to grow, then I need to be open to differences of opinion, realizing that while, I don’t have to agree, that I also don’t have to let it tear apart what could be a meaningful relationship of relationships. Sometimes we burn our bridges with no idea of who else could walk across them.
3.) Consider The Quickies: There are a few things that I need to do and keep doing to really appreciate others. I need to PAY ATTENTION. I am sometime so focused on myself that I miss everything else around me – must continually work on this one! I need to ASK MEANINGFUL QUESTIONS. Questions help me to get below the surface, so that I can know more. The more I know about you, the more opportunity, I have to find something to appreciate. I need to REALLY CARE. I care. I have always cared, but I am learning that I can care more deeply and more real. I am also discovering that I want to.
Appreciation is a choice. We want others to make the choice to appreciate us, but maybe we need to make the choice first, and then take whatever might come our way. Just a little something we all need to think about. Here’s a question for you: Who do you or who can you appreciate today? Take the time to appreciate them and you will be glad you did!
A few months ago, I started a series of messages on Friendship! We focused on friendship with God and friendship with others! I love and appreciate all of my friends, but realize that I have not and I do not always show this in the way that I should. It’s not that I don’t care or that I am not interested. It’s just that, if I am your friend, then I am your friend and nothing is going to change that on my part. (This is how I think in my head and heart and feel that if you know me, then you should know this about me!) What I am learning is that while I may have an expectation that my friends accept and believe that, some of my friends need continuing reassurance. (They may know it, but not believe it or understand it!)
When I first began to realize this need that some of my friends had, my first thought was that they are not much of a friend if they don’t know me and believe me as I am. (I have other friends that get it and it’s not a problem for them!) And then I slowly began to realize that everybody has their on perception. I should be able to expect that they would work to give me the benefit of the doubt, but if they don’t or won’t, then I still have the responsibility and obligation as a friend to try to help my friend see, know and experience the real me. Some would say: “They are not really your friend, if they have that attitude!” But the issue is not their being my friend. The issue is my being their friend. I am not responsible for their actions or reactions! I am responsible for my own. And even when people who say they are friends are not friendly, I have a responsibility and obligation to continue to be friendly, because that’s what friends do! (Many times all of us think we are being or doing, but we are fooling ourselves and that is why someone in the friendship has to be willing to go the extra mile or the friendship will die!)
God is our friend and we don’t always treat God the way that He should be treated, but He patiently gives us time, space, knowledge and wisdom to figure it out! He does this because He is our friend and wants us to be a friend back! So, before you write somebody off, make sure that you are doing your part as a friend. It’s a blessing for you, them and everybody. And the best part is that it brings glory to God when we get this right! And it is really cool, when you get to travel that extra mile together!
Thank you for being my friend and for reading this blog! I hope it challenges, encourages and blesses you!
In the message yesterday, I challenged everyone with the scripture from 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”To help you do this I shared 15 Questions! Several of you have asked for a copy of the questions. These questions grew out of my reading “Crazy Love!” by Francis Chan. Specifically out of chapters 4 and 5. I hope the questions help you to do some self-examination and that the examination helps you to focus on and grow your love for God, His Church and others!
1. Have you convinced yourself that attending church is enough?
2. Are you willing to give money as long as it does not mess with your standard of living?
3. Do you choose what is popular over what is right when in conflict?
4. Do you want to be saved from your sin or from the penalty of your sin?
5. Are you watching others do things for God, but never joining in?
6. Do you share your faith?
7. Are you comparing yourself to the world to find spiritual satisfaction?
8. Do you allow Jesus to have all of your life or do you just give Him a part?
9. Is there a limit to your service? (Time, money, energy!)
10. What do you spend most of your time thinking about: Life here on earth or life there in Heaven?
11. Do you allow guilt to move you closer to God or farther away?
12. Are you more interested in how far you can go and it not be sin?
13. Do you play it safe and fail to take risks for the Kingdom?
14. Can you see that there is room for growth and improvement in your life?
15. Are you willing to take the steps?
Take some time to really think through these questions. I know that I have a lot of work to do. I am looking forward to what God can do with me and through me as I work on some of this stuff. I am praying for you and I ask you to please pray for me. Remember: We can do this for God’s glory and everyone’s blessing!
I am not your normal pastor/preacher! To those of you that know me, that is no grand revelation! I love God, His Church and People! I try really hard to not be judgmental. I know that I am a sinner saved by grace and that I have more than my share of challenges and struggles. A lot of the new friends that I am making find it hard to believe that I am a pastor/preacher. They have never known a pastor/preacher like me that is actually human and honest about his struggles, frustrations and yes even sins!
I have not always been this way. There was a time when I gave into the mold that traditional church people will often try to force you into. My hair was alway perfectly parted to the side, my face was always cleanly shaven and I had a perfect collection of suits and ties to fit every occasion. (Casual to me was a pair of khaki pants and a button down shirt!) There is nothing wrong with any of these things and I still from time to time wear the suit, show off the baby face and sport the very conservative side part – this is a part of who I am, but only a very small and limited part. I tried to look perfect and actually began to believe that since I looked it, then I must be! (We should know better!)
Read this passage from 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 19.) Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20.) To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21.) To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22.) To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
I am learning to just be me and I have to tell you – it feels pretty good! Let me encourage you to spend some time with God and discover who He has made you to be and then enjoy being the you that He created you to be! God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life – don’t let life and other people mess you up, drag you down and keep you from experiencing God’s blessing – just be the best you that He created you to be!
I had a hard time getting online this morning! I kept getting an error message and nothing that I tried seemed to work in solving the problem, but I did not give up – I kept on trying. So many times as we try to live our lives, we will get thrown a curve ball and things will not work out the way that we planned. I am not talking about the easy stuff like trying to get online. I am talking about the tough stuff – like life just sometimes being rough and not working out the way we had hoped and planned!
Don’t Give Up! On a good day – life is hard, and on a hard day – life seems impossible! When times get like this, we are tempted to give in and give up, but don’t you dare do it! Keep after it! Here are some steps to make sure that you are doing the right thing!
First, make sure that you are in communication with God. Talk to God about your situation. He already knows all about it, but loves to hear it from your perspective. Sometimes, just taking the time to talk it over with Him will lead you to a moment of clarity that helps you to get everything headed in the right direction!
Second, check to make sure that you are not the cause of the problem. We always want to shift the blame, but ultimately – we all bear responsibility for ourselves. I am responsible for my actions and reactions to life! It is very easy for us to get out of God’s plan and focused on our very own and very limited agenda. Make sure that you are where God wants you to be and doing what God created you to do!
Third, enjoy the journey! Life here on this earth is way to short to not enjoy every moment of it. Don’t let anything or anybody rob you of the special experiences that God has for you in the failures and the victories!
I hope this encourages you today and helps you to get more out of this very special day that God has given you!
I have spent a good bit of time during the last couple of months thinking about love. And I have discovered that love is the solution to so many of our problems. Love is the answer to so many of our questions. When we learn to receive love and return love, then we are living according to our created design. Love is the key that unlocks the door to the possibilities and potential that God has put in each one of us.
When we experience love and express love, we are living in the flow of Who God is! God is love! We know Him and experience Him as we allow ourselves to be loved by Him and as we express this love back to Him and others.
Love is one of those words that we throw around with a lot of carelessness. It is one of those words that we love to go running to for comfort. Real love is so much more than a word. Real love is action! It is the action of getting from God and giving back to Him and others. If we love God, then we will love others!
I’ve got some work to do on experiencing and expressing love! I have not got it all figured out, but that is okay because He loves me anyway! And because He loves me, I am going to work to try and figure this thing out!
Funerals! I have attended a lot of funerals lately. It is an almost continual reminder to me that we are always headed out of this life and into the next, which the Bible teaches is eternal! A few weeks ago, I was reading “Crazy Love!” by Francis Chan and he hit me with this thought: Have you ever noticed how really good and special the dead are made to sound at most funerals.
Preacher Talk! We preachers get up and focus on their positive qualities and if we are honest, sometimes accentuate and even puff up the positive, while ignoring the negative. We usually end up making people sound much better than they really were! The funerals that I love to share at, are the ones where I just get to tell it like it is and it is all positive, because the person had experienced God’s love and it changed their life and so they were able to express that love back to God and others with a life that had been changed from the inside – out!
It all got me to thinking about that poem by Linda Ellis – How Do You Live Your Dash!
“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning… to the end. He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. (1934-1998)
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth… and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we won; the cars…the house…the cash, what matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.. are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never done before. If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile. Remembering that this special dash might only last a while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read with your life’s actions to rehash… would you be proud of the things they said about how you spent your dash?”
A Different Life! How would our lives be different – if we really got up every day determined to make our dash count? How would our lives be different – if we worked to live a life that made the job of the preacher of our funeral easy? I don’t want anyone to have to make up anything or exaggerate at my funeral! I want to live a life that honors and brings glory to God! I want to love the One Who love me! I want to experience His crazy and amazing love and I want to express His crazy and amazing love through the living of my life! I’ve got some work to do! See ya!