Friday, September 3, 2010

Are you walking in gratitude?

When Robinson Crusoe was wrecked on his lonely island, he drew up in two columns what he called the evil and the good. He was cast on a desolate island, but he was still alive--not drowned, as he ship's company was. He was apart from human society, but he was not starving. He had no clothes, but he was in a hot climate where he did not need them. He was without mean of defense, but he saw not wild beasts such as he had seen on the coast of Africa. He had no one to whom he could speak, but God had sent the ship so near to the shore that he could get out of it all the things necessary for his basic needs. So he concluded that there was not any condition in the world so miserable but that one could find something for which to be grateful.

For many of us, when there is a slight disturbance in the force of our lives, we tend to forget to look for and discover the things we have. We can always find something to express our gratitude for...even if it is something menial or minor. Remember that God looks for and it pleased when we walk and abide in the spirit of is evidence that we trust God.

Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace. the grateful heart cries out in the morning, "Thank you, Lord, for the gift of a new day." And it continues to express its gratitude as the blessings unfold. Brennan Manning, in his book "Ruthless Trust," suggests that "to walk in gratitude is a way of living that is inclusive, attentive, contagious, and theocentric." He continues by saying, "the antithesis of giving thanks is grumbling. The grumblers live in a state of self-induced stress."

The Apostle Paul echoed these final instructions to the Thessalonians, "give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The late Henri Nouwen captures the spiritual work of gratitude when he said:

"To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives--the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections--that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to this present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's us not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."

Make a conscious choice today to live and walk in will change your life!

Give thanks with a grateful heart!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are You Willing to Wait?

How are you at waiting on God? How do you determine if God is giving you the green light to move forward? Many believers make the mistake of adding up all the pluses and then concluding that God has given them the green light. Several factors go into making a decision from the Lord.

It is important to do three things before you make a decision on a matter. First, you should gather facts. Fact gathering allows you to determine all the realities of a given situation. However, this does not ultimately drive your decision, but it can put a stop to it. For instance, if you were planning to build a shopping center and you knew the only way to lease the space was to rent to a porn shop, your decision would be made. God would not lead you to enter into unrighteous ventures.

Second, is the Holy Spirit guiding you in your decision? "If the Lord delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm" (Ps. 37:23). George Mueller cites that the steps are also "by the Lord." God puts hedges around us, but many times we bull our way through the hedges under the guise of tenacity and perseverance. This too is unrighteousness. One wise workplace believer stated that the greatest success one can have in business is to know when it is time to pull the plug rather than keep forcing a situation. Not all businesses last forever.

Third, has your decision been confirmed? God has placed others around us to be used as instruments in our lives to confirm decisions and keep us from the deceit of our own heart. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" (2 Cor. 13:1b). This is God's way of keeping us within the hedge of His protection.

"Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting God's Attention

I am attending my first Pastor's School Conference in Phoenix, Az. Tonight, I witnessed something awesome and inspiring as a Parade of Ministries from Phoenix First Assembly of God. I was awestruck as thousands of people for over 2 hours of outreach ministries were paraded on the platform of this enormous church. One of the things that touched my heart was the wonderful testimonies of how the Lord saved and rescued so many from prison, drugs, broken homes, loneliness, suicide, you name it, it was covered. The atmosphere in the place was simply electric as I was caught up in the euphoria of Salvation!

Pastor Tommy Barnett, who has been there 30 years, shared the vision that brought him to Phoenix and what he saw and what drives him today. Briefly, he shared how God led him to Phoenix because he desired to be in a place where you would never reach everyone. He also shared what has driven him since day one, "If I can get the attention of God, the impossible can happen." The conference is called the "Solutionary Conference," putting the words revolutionary and solution together.

I wonder what would happen in my life and yours when we "get God's attention!"

Consider the possibilities as ministry is rethought where permission is granted to begin ministries and maybe realize when a ramp is provided for the lost...they will come!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Are You A Fan.....or a Follower?

For the great majority of people, being a fan is energizing (especially when our team is winning), inspiring, and easy. Easy, because it does not require any effort, training, or commitment. It only takes a voice, a sign, a hat, t-shirt, bumper sticker and you are set. The downside to being a fan is that they have a great tendency to be unpredictable, unfaithful, and unhappy when their team is in a slump.

Conversely, the follower stays the course, is undaunted, and not swayed by adversity. Being a follower of Christ requires that we have this kind of drive and determination, despite the circumstances or conditions around us. A follower of Christ does not win every game, (like the fan expects) but realizes that there is an entire season yet to play, an eternity with Christ to be gained!

So which one are you? A fan who changes with the wind, or the follower who stays focused on whats ahead...I like the way the Apostle Paul put it:

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is. See things from His perspective." Col. 3:1,2 Message

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Lies Beneath...

Remember the last time you lost it emotionally? It might have been toward your wife, your children, a co-worker, or the guy who just cut you off this morning on your way to work. Each one of us struggle with the handling of our emotions, and some better than others. When was the last time you took an interior look at what lies beneath the surface of your life? And investigated the hidden places in your life...the places where the real struggles are?

I have been reading a provoking book for the past 6 months entitled: "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality." The author is Peter Scazzero, a Pastor in Queens, NY. Peter contends that, "It's impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature." And goes on to flesh out reasons why so many Christians, even Pastor's struggle with emotional immaturity. He goes on to suggest that as an Iceberg is deceptive by its tip, so too is emotional health and spirituality when it comes to our lives. As the Psalmist cries out, "Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong--then guide me on the road to eternal life." (Ps. 139:23-4) The Message.

Even though you might have had many real and helpful spiritual experiences in certain areas of your life, instrinsically you could be suffering, even severely from emotional pain or anxiety. The good news there is help and hope for you...but it is going to take time to allow the Holy Spirit to unravel the layers of emotional pain and anger that has been buried deep within. You see, the Lord never stops the process of change in may be stagnated by our stubbornness and free will for a time...but He never gives up on let Him in completely and begin to let out the emotional will be more at peace with yourself and with God!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who Will Get My Vote?

With the election upon us, amid the countless speeches, rhetoric and campaign promises. So now what? How do we vote? What will be the factor(s) that will end the debate in our minds? Time is ticking... Recently, I came across an article by gentleman named Tony Woodlief (Current Issue of World Magazine) that I thinks bears consideration.
Here is an excerpt from that article:
"I have become something I once reviled: a single-issue voter. I used to think that a wise voter tries to discern each candidate's intentions on major issues, and then casts his vote based on an assessment of who will do the greatest overall good—or the least evil. I thought those voters who support a candidate based on a single issue—whether he will increase school funding, say, or lower taxes—were shirking their duty to consider the full ramifications of putting someone in office. What good is electing someone who is "right" on one thing, I thought, if he gets everything else disastrously wrong?
This was the reasoning I used as I congratulated myself for wisely apportioning my votes based on utilitarian calculations. Now I suspect this sort of calculation misses something. I've become convinced that a nation which sanctions the extinguishing of unborn children, and further, the outright execution of near-term infants, doesn't deserve admiration even if it gets every other policy right. It's certainly true that there are other issues that ought to concern Christians, like the sanctity of marriage, and how we treat the mentally ill, the elderly, and children who have been born.
But abortion is, in my view, the touchstone. Get this one wrong and your moral compass can guide you in nothing else.
Yet there is also painful clarity that comes with single-mindedness. Jobs, highways, schools, economic growth—none of these matter if we're willing to sanction murder to get them. Perhaps my mentality is a recipe for political isolation for Christians, for the losing of elections, and maybe even a loss of national greatness. I worry that the alternative, however, is to lose something far greater, which is our ability to discern good from evil, and to act accordingly."
Just something to think about as you head to the polls on Tuesday...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Medical Missions...San Luis, Mexico

This was our team from First Assembly who ministered medically and spiritually together with over 65 others from all over the country. We were working out of Bethel Orphanage, that has been reaching out to orhpans and the community of San Luis for over 28 years. Over 5,000 lives were touched through clinics consisting of medical, optical, dental, chiropractic and spiritual. Each person heard the gospel and over 1,061 accepted Christ! In the clinic that I was priviledged to be part of over 90% of those who heard the gospel received Christ. Additionally, rice and beans were given out to families and individuals as they left the clinics. For four of our ladies this was their first missions experienced and each one expressed how the trip opened their eyes to how the rest of the world lives, and that they would definitely want to serve the Lord on another missions trip. I'll never forget the words of Keith Green, who penned these words to song, "Jesus Comands Us To Go..." this sums up missions and every effort made to reach souls for Jesus! So when you get the opportunity to go....Just go!