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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just Plain Stubborn...


You know how when you're young, your parents always tell you that "I hope that one day when you you're a parent, you have children as stubborn as you?" Of course, I never believed it. That doesn't just happen. After all, I will be a better parent than mine were, and so my kids will just naturally be better.

So...are you falling over yet overwhelmed with hysterical laughter??? It hasn't quite happened that way. Here I am, a father of three great kids. My youngest Nathan, 15 weeks, is in his bed, where he will sleep through the night til about 9am. Faith, my daughter and middle child, was placed in her bad about 8:30pm tonight, where she will stay until about 8:30 to 9 tomorrow morning. Then there's Vincent, my oldest who is 3 1/2. It's a little after 10pm and I have been trying to put him down to bed since 8:45pm.

The problem is, every 10 minutes or so, he gets up with some excuse. Once, it was that he was too hot. Then, he had to "go potty" although there was nothing but air. After that, he needed his closet door closed. Now, you gotta understand something about me. I was raised in the south by a "mamma" who believed in discipline, and she expected what she expected. So, Vincent knows that with disobedience comes discipline. Sorry, but I'm not a big believer in time-outs, negotiations, and demerits. I believe the Bible to be literal when it says, "spare the rod and spoil the child."

But what's got me puzzled, is that even though he knows what he's going to get, he still gets up. He knows that his actions will result in physical discipline, and yet he still insists on doing his own thing. I know, I know, there is a lot of phsyco-babble about him being insecure, yada yada yada. He is a human being who is excerisizing his will.

Isn't that what we do? We know the consequences of certain things we do, but yet we still do it. We know the results of unforgiveness, and yet we still hold on to a grudge. We know the pain of betrayal, and yet we still keep walking back into relationships where there is no real change. We know the pain we cause ourselves and others by the sharpness of our tongue, and yet we open our mouth still. And we wonder why it hurts.

Yes, stubborness seems to be a part of the human way of life. My challenge to my son, to myself, and to whomever else is out there...trade stubborness for submission. It's not so glamorous, but it sure does get you further...with a lot less pain!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Worship?


Romans 12:1 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

I've really been challenged lately on the meaning of worship in my life. What is it? There is so much debate in the church on what worship really is. It seems to be a great competition really. It's contemporary vs. traditional; hymns vs. choruses; choirs vs. worship teams; and organs vs. drums and guitars. You've got the worship "top 40." Worship has been commercialized, and dare I say it, trivialized and minimized to mere music.

Don't get me wrong, I love some passionate worship music. But it's so much more than that. We often hear people say, "well, I just didn't get anything out of worship today." Well...GREAT!!! Because YOU weren't supposed to. Worship is NOT about you or me. It's about honoring HIM. The word worship in the Hebrew means to bow, to humble, to lay prostrate. It paints the picture reminicent of when I got down on one knee to ask Maria's hand in marriage. I yielded myself to her. I honored her. I loved her...and of course still do! In the Greek, the word worship is a word that means "to kiss." It's about humility, surrender, and intimacy...NOT just music.

Our worship is not merely the song of our lips, but the song of our life. How is your lifesong today?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Prep Work is Hard Work



Galatians 6:9 (MSG) So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.

Since taking the position as senior pastor of an incredible growing church, my wife and I have begun the process of prepping our house for listing. Let me tell you what...it's alot more than I thought! The time, the money, the energy (all of which has seemed to be getting pretty low lately) has been put to the task at an intense level.

Ok, let me be up front with you. I'm not a handy man. I'm a good "look in the yellow pages, call the right guy and write a check" kind of man. Well, with three kids (2 in diapers and one on formula) money isn't growing on trees. So, in the past few weeks, I have been weeding, mulching, edging, painting the foundation block, the front of the house, the shutters...Ok, wait. Need to talk about this one. Climbing up two stories on a flimsy ladder trying to take off shutters Noah himself must of put on after the flood subsided, scared me half to death. Anyway, got it done.

I have put in many hours, sweat more than I have in a long time, and probably own a controlling share of stock in Lowe's. But, I have learned, that prepping a house for sale is a lot of HARD WORK...but it's worth it in the long run. I can't give up. I can't quit, because I believe that it's going to be worth it.

It's the same way with our lives. The Bible says that WE are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the house that needs prepped. It's not easy. It's not easy. It's not easy. But it's worth it. We have to spend lots of time and energy and SACRIFICE in order to prepare ourselves to be who God has intended us to be.

Oh, but don't give up. In due season, you will reap the rewards...IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Freedom Has a Price??


It's an interesting idea that freedom has a price. I mean, I know that it does, but it's easy to believe that there are so many who believe otherwise. It's amazing to me how people can get wrapped up in their personal views so tightly that they forget to be appreciative for what they have, and how they got it.

I thank God for our soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors. Generations have come and go, and we live in a nation that enjoys a sense of freedom because others have borne the burden so that freedom could be more than a dream.

There is a price for freedom. Ask George Washington, who led a young nation into battle for freedom. Just ask Abraham Lincoln, who kept a nation from falling a part during a civil war, in an attempt for freedom. Why not ask Martin Luther King, Jr who dedicated his life, and gave his life, to the cause of equal rights and freedom. The protests that are marched, the dissenting opinions that are voiced, the houses of worship that exist, and so much more, ONLY exist because freedom was fought for and won.

Most importantly, ask Jesus Christ, who, beyond popular opinion, lived, died, and rose again. Why? Why would He do such a thing? Why would He go through the torturous process of crucifixion? Why? Because of freedom. The Bible says, "It was for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Freedom has a cost. There are those that spit in the face of the freedoms they have. And there are others who stand up proudly to fight for those very freedoms that others take for granted. On this Memorial Day Weekend, I just want to say THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU to all who have served, who serve now, and those who dream of the day they will serve. From one veteran to those who have and who do serve - I salute you!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Biggest Loser

My favorite TV shows this season (especially since the writers strike took off my favorite show "24") has been "The Biggest Loser." Each Tuesday night, my wife and I would make sure that we got the kids to bed on time so that we could get in front of the tv to see the last hour of the show. Each week, you saw the life-changing stories of people who recognized the life-destroying habits in their lives, and how they had vowed to defy statistics, drop the pounds, and strive that they would never go back to that place again.

Well...for what ever reason, I was unable to see the grand finale. But, thanks to http://www.hulu.com/, I was able to watch it, and just finished as a matter of fact. How incredible to see all of the before and after pictures. The transformations were truly amazing!

How true it is in our own lives. Sometimes it's the things we need to lose that makes us the biggest winner. What are the things in your life that you need to lose? Maybe it's some baggage from the past. God knows that's been the case for me at times. Memories of hurt, lingering anger, disappointments, oh the list can go on and on and on.

So...go ahead and lose. Yeah...lose the baggage. Shake it off. It may not come off easy, but it sure didn't get there all at once, so it may take some time. But God will give you the strength and His freedom will be your motivation. So go ahead and be the Biggest Loser!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Folded Hands & Open Hearts

I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. Psalms 119:147 (NLT)

I woke up a little earlier this morning. On most days, my 3 year old, Vincent, will serve as my alarm clock. But today, I woke up earlier and decided to spend some extra moments with God. Now, I'm not really a morning person...AT ALL...and there were times this morning that I was fighting the sandman, but how sweet it is to be in the presence of God Himself. How awesome it is to be able to talk to the great King of kings, knowing that He enjoys the conversation.

What a way to begin the morning. Most of the time, I spend greater amount of time praying in the evening before going to bed. See, I am a night person. That's what night people do. We pray about all of the things of the day. But there really is something incredible about STARTING your day with the mindset that says, "God, it's a new day, and I ask you to be in charge today....it's not about me, but all about You."

So...how about it? Are you taking time to talk with the One who knows you inside and out, and yet still loves you the most and still wants to talk to you, too? Take some time, "Good morning, God. I live for you today, and everyday....and begin to have a conversation with your best friend. Because, guess what...He's really looking forward to enjoying that conversation!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Day


1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”


What an exciting verse this is. It's amazing to know that God really does have everything under control, and that He DOES have a plan for our lives. Sometimes we don't understand it, but when we surrender to Him, what an amazing plan we begin to live out.



This past Sunday, my family and I officially joined the congregation of CrossWay Church as their lead pastors. I'll be a little transparent. My stomach leading up to the first Sunday had become a major home for wayward butterflies. I began to be nervous and entertained far too many thoughts that began to play tricks on me. But on our way to the church that morning, Maria and I closed our eyes and prayed (I left mine open...I was driving on the turnpike.) We prayed for God's presence to be totally revealed that morning. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about our new beginning. It's about the new beginning that Christ gives each of us. It's about the power of His presence that never leaves us or forsakes us. It's about the forgiveness and the mercy that He offers us.



I thank God for all He's done in my life up to this point. I'm thankful for the challenges, the blessings, the disappointments, the moments on the mountain top AND the ones in the valley. I am thankful for all that God has used to prepare us for this moment. It is a new day. I am excited about this opportunity to be with this awesome church family. It's a new day.



Friday, May 2, 2008

Students Reaching Their School

This is a video of how one student reached out, seen God change her friends, and together they are changing a school.

Extremes

Life is an amazing thing. It is filled with extremes. One of the biggest extremes I think I have ever encountered as been an emotional one THIS WEEK. Wednesday night, I walked out of a place that I have loved being for the last 3 years. Those last three years have been ones of great reward, seeing countless teenagers come to know Christ, develop a love and passion for Him, and sharing with others. How incredible it has been seeing them surrendered before God, crying out to Him for change in their hearts...and seeing Him do it! But, as I walked out of the church on Wednesday night, the realization finally started to hit me. I was no longer the youth pastor of these TRULY AMAZING teenagers. Although they will always have a place in my heart, I know that our connecction will never be the same.

Yesterday, I walked into another church with the realization that I was now the senior pastor of a congregation I have already started to fall in love with. I walked into my new office with both excitement and fear & trembling. I am just 2 weeks shy of being 30 and am very much aware of my need for the Holy Spirit of God to be in total control. I am so excited about the possibilities of what God will do. The Bible is full of accounts of God using ordinary, insignificant, inadequate, and inexperienced people to extraordinary things! I am believing God that I may be one of those people. The possibilities are endless because the promises and faithfullness of the God I serve is endless. And so will be my dependency on Him.

From one extreme to another, I find myself refixing my grip to the hands of the Savior. He is God. He is in control. He is leading. And I am excited!