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JOYJOLT!

Very Cool - Can Even Be A Watch!We look for joy, but can never seem to find it.  If and when we do find it, then we can’t manage to hold onto it.  Joy is that miraculous and fulfilling gift that the Holy Spirit flows into our lives that enables us to face whatever life throws our way with hope, optimism, confidence and excitement.  Joy is that special gift of God that everyone wants, but that so few are willing to really work and live for.

It may be that your biggest problem is not that you are not looking for joy, but that you are looking for joy in all of the wrong places.  We try to find it in our achievements, goals and ambitions, but no matter how hard we try or what we accomplish, it just never seems to be there.  We often look to others and what they do for us or what they do not do to us for our joy, but this often leaves us worse off than when we began.  We sometimes even look deep within ourselves, only to discover that this is not the place, even though it sounds good.
Joy is found in one place and one place only.  Joy is found in the presence of God.  Psalm 16:11 says “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”  Joy that is bigger, better and stronger than any other thing in your life can only flow from one source and that is the pure source of His presence.  If you want joy that will allow you to face and overcome even the worst that life will throw your way, then you must journey into and learn to stay in His presence.
Sometimes when I am really wanting to show my “mad skills” on the grill, I will take a piece of meat and marinate it in some liquid and spices.  I literally leave the meat in the liquid for a long period of time, so that it can soak up all of the flavor that makes such a difference. In the cooking world this is known as “marinating” the meat.
So Many Options!We need to marinate in God’s joy by living our lives in His presence.  We do this by 1.) Making it a priority to invest time in God’s Word everyday.  One of the tools that I use to help me with this is youversion.com, this online Bible has a whole series of reading plans that help me to get in the Word, stay focused and enjoy His presence.  2.) Worship God Who is more than worthy on a regular basis.  I have an iPod nano that I have programmed with some of my favorite music and I have a section of songs that immediately take me to a place of worship, where I can enjoy sweet communion and fellowship with my Creator.  3.) Spend time in prayer.  This is a great gift that God has given to us, but it is also one of the most unused gifts. Prayer is simply having conversation with God.  It means that we talk and listen.  This conversation is evidence of His presence and joy can’t help but flow through it into and through our lives.
Time spent is God’s Word opens the door for worship.  Real and genuine worship brings us into His presence.  In His presence we have the opportunity for conversation, which will fill out lives with His joy.  Hope you enjoy the joy of His presence today!

Better Than A Pinky Promise!

Pinky Promise!

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!

Appreciation!

Don't Hate - Appreciate!

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 Trade Worth Making!

Trade Your Plans For God's Plans!

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11  God has an amazing dream for your life!  If you really want to accomplish and achieve the great things that God created you for, then take some time to think about and look for His dream and plans!

Looking for God’s dreams and plans, may mean that you have to lay down your dreams and plans, but it is a trade worth making.  Remember:  You cannot head in two directions at once, so look for the direction that God has for you, knowing that He will prosper and not harm you, that He will give you a hope and a future!  God Bless And Press On!

You Are Really Special!

It Only Takes A Spark!

You are special, don’t allow anyone to tell you any different!  God created you as you and that makes you very special.  God not only created you, but He also gifted you!  God has given each of His special creations – special gifts!  You have a special gift from God!

The Scriptures teach us to “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.”  2 Timothy 1:6  What does this tell me?  It tells me that I have a gift in me that God has given to me and I need to “kindle afresh” (fan into flame, stir up, readjust the embers) that gift, so that I can do the thing that God has given me to do and be the special creation that God has created me to be!

You have a gift in you that God has given you!  Adjust the embers, stir up, fan into flame and kindle afresh this amazing gift and do what God created you to do.  As you do, you will accomplish great things and discover the joy of being one of God’s special creations!

Got Any Problems?

"All God's Children Got Problems!"Problems! Do you ever have any problems?  I know that’s a crazy question.  Of course, we all have problems!  God has been showing me some things about problems as I have been working through some of my own problems.  I hope my thinking out loud in this blog might help you with any problems that you might have!

Here are a few of the things that I have learned about problems:

I have learned that problems are everywhere! There is no place that you and I can go on this earth to escape problems.  The lesson to learn:  You can’ t run away from a problem, because as you run out of one, you will run into another!

I have learned that everyone has problems! It does not matter how much money you have or don’t have.  It does not matter how smart or dumb you may happen to be.  It does not matter which side of the tracks you live on.  No one is immune!  “I got problems, you got problems, all God’s children got problems!”

I have learned that problems don’t just go away! We have to work on them and through them!  A problem worked through can make us better, stronger and more effective.  A problem ignored can make us bitter, weaker and render us ineffective!  Don’t ignore your problem – deal with it!

I have learned that all problems have a solution! Some solutions come quickly and easily, while others take time and hard work.  If we will work for the solution, then God will use our problems to take us to a place of growth and blessing.

Here are a few steps to help you work on and through your problems! 1.) Talk To God! I am not talking about just going through the motions.  I am talking about really having a conversation with your Creator and Sustainer.  God loves you and He has an amazing plan for your life.  You will be amazed at how taking a little time to talk with Him can reveal solutions to so many things that you are facing!  2.) Don’t Give Up! As I look back on my life, I can see many times where I was just one decision away from break-through, but because I gave up and gave in – my problem got the best of me, instead of me getting the best of it!  Stay with it, work through – you will be glad that you did!  3.) Stay Focused! One of the biggest challenges to my working on and through my problems is all of the distractions that life seems to want to throw my way.  Know your problem and do whatever it takes to get through it!

You Can Do This! You can do this, because you are God’s special Creation.  Your life matters and you can make more of a difference than you know or realize.  So when your problem smacks you up side the head today – take it on, take it out and grow on to the next thing!

So You Had A Bad Day!

So You Had A Bad Day?

What do you do when the phone rings and the person on the other side of the line gives you bad news?  It may be a call from a family member sharing with you the news of a loved one that has passed.  It could be the scary call from the Doctor with the results from the test that don’t look very promising.  Or it could be any number of different scenarios giving you the news that you have always dreaded to hear!  If you live long enough you will experience some of these dark times of life.  Times where the bad news of circumstances seem to be bigger and heavier than the good news of daily living.

Dark Times! During the dark times of life it is very important that we take the time to remind ourselves of some very important truths.  These truths will shine as a light in the darkness and guide us through to the other side, where we will find blessing for having made it through the challenge.

Remind Yourself That God Loves You! That’s right!  We know it, but we take it for granted and we often forget about it!  It is somewhere in there, but not where it needs to be.  Put right up in the front of your mind and heart the reminder that “GOD LOVES ME!”  God does love you – more than you can dream or imagine!

Remind Yourself That All Things Work Together For The Good Of Those That Love God And Who Are Called According To His Purpose! God is always at work.  And God is always working for our blessing.  When we love God and live in obedience to Him and His calling, then His blessings are able to flow to and through our lives.  God can use even the bad for our good, if we will love, trust and obey Him!

Remind Yourself That God Has A Plan And It Is Better Than Any Plan That You Can Come Up With! Look around you – everything that God has created has a purpose!  God has a plan and purpose for your life and if He has allowed some challenge to come into your life, then you can bank on the fact that He is going to use it to grow you and use you for His glory!

Remind Yourself To Deal With Any Sin That Might Get In Between You And God! We don’t like to admit it, but the truth is:  WE ARE SINNERS AND OUR SIN GETS IN THE WAY!  Don’t beat up on yourself for being a sinner.  Just admit it, asked for God’s forgiveness and strength to overcome!  Don’t allow sin to block the flow of God’s blessing to and through you!

Remind Yourself Of The Reality That God Has Been With Me, Is With Me Now And Will Be With Me For Always! God has been with you always and will be with you always.  He was with you before you were born and desires to be with you after you die.  There may be times that you feel like you are all alone, but God is always just one prayer away.  Take some time to talk with Him today and thank Him for what you’ve been reminded of!

15 Questions!

Questions And Answers!

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!

The Questions:

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!

Pray For What???

Photo 3Everybody knows that they should pray, but very few actually take the time to do it! Most people pray when they are in trouble or when life fails to work out the way that they had planned.  I think that one of the things that gets in the way of our praying on a regular basis is not knowing what to pray for.  So, I thought that I would share a few suggestions to hopefully encourage us all to take some time today to pray!

Remember that prayer is conversation! Prayer is simply you talking and listening to God.  In the same way that you would have a conversation with a friend, you can have a conversation with God.  You have to learn to listen in a different way, but with a little practice – you will be hearing God in the Spirit in no time!

Pray For People! God loves people!  God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross, so that people might be able to have relationship with their Creator.  Pray that your family, friends, neighbors and even enemies might get into this amazing relationship!  If you have not gotten into this relationship, then pray and ask God to help you!  If you need help getting into relationship with God, then drop me a line!

Pray Against The Enemy! Ask God to tear down the works of Satan.  Pray that Satan’s thoughts will be taken “captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ!”  Satan is at work all around us and one of the greatest weapons that we have against his evil schemes is prayer.  Make sure that you are using this weapon and using it wisely!

Pray For The Holy Spirit! Ask for the Holy Spirits conviction of sin and leading into freedom.  Ask the Spirit to help you hear, receive and become obedient to God’s Word, so that God’s will and purposes might be accomplished in and through you!

This is just a few of the things that you and I can and should be praying for! Take a few moments right now to have a little conversation with God – just share your heart.  You will be surprised at what a difference it will make!

Tomatoes!

tomato8oz_Duke's_MayoOne of my favorite things about this time of year is tomatoes! I love tomatoes!  I especially love them ripe, sliced and in between two slices of bread, smothered with Dukes Mayo and sprinkled with pepper!  I also like them green, battered and fried crispy brown!

Another thing that I like about tomatoes is watching them grow! One day you have a little yellow flower and the next a small green ball.  The green ball continues to grow and change it’s shape and then it starts to change it’s color.  It eventually turns into a big, red, ripe and juicy tomato.  When it turns red, ripe and juicy, you better pick it and use it or it will rot!

We are a lot like tomatoes! We are green and growing or ripe and rotting! The difference between us and the tomato is that we get to make the choice!

What are you? You are green and growing when you realize that you don’t know everything and there is still much for you to learn!  You are ripe and rotting when you think that you have arrived and simply seek to live life on cruise control!

I want to be green and growing! I want to learn all of the amazing new things that God puts in front of me everyday!  It is exciting to think that everyday is another day for me to grow and change!  God is still working on me!

I have changed a lot through the years and the most incredible thing is this:  Some of my most amazing change and growth is still in front of me!  Enjoy letting God grow you today!