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Monday, June 23, 2008

Framgents


Wow! Yesterday was such an amazing time at CrossWay Church! The presence of God was so tangible, so evident, so special. I share a message that really connected to the core of who we really are. It was out the of the passage that relays the account of the sinful woman who brought her alabaster jar to Jesus.

Jesus Saw Her Sin. There were no secrets. She got tired of living a life that was contrary to the best that God had for her. She knew where to go. To the feet of the Friend of Sinners. She didn't care about what they said, what they thought. All she wanted was freedom.

Jesus Showed Her Compassion. He loved her. He embraced her. He saw beyond her past, her hurts, her mistakes. He saw the soul that He formed. He wasn't there to condemn her. When others were pointing their fingers, Jesus was opening His arms.

Jesus Saved Her from Shame. He told the naysayers that what she had done was so beautiful, that wherever the message was preached, SHE would be remembered admiringly. He was restoring her reputation, her dignity, her future. She had presented Jesus with brokenness. She broke the jar. She surrendered control of the contents.

What a great example for any of us. I pray that we would present Jesus with our own brokenness, for that is where true wholeness begins.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Through the Night


Wow...family vacation!! We have been looking forward to this week for several months now. I found an incredibly nice little 3 bedroom house right off the Lake Erie in Ohio. It's a perfect situation!

Well, we're on our last day of vacation, and it has been rainy, cool, overcast, and our daughter is cutting in her last 2 front bottom teeth. I must be open, I had begun to get a little overwhelmed, discouraged, and well...mad. I've been looking forward to this week and it's NOTHING like I planned. But something happened in the last 18 hours that has definitely brought me to a new state of humility.

Faith, our middle child and only girl, went to bed around 8pm, which is pretty normal. However, by around midnight, she was screaming what sounded like from a horror movie (not that I watch them...just so i've heard). I went upstairs and my little princess is writhing in pain in her sleep. What's a dad to do? I got my pillow and blanket and went to share the queen bed that my 21 month old daughter is sleeping in. All through the night she tossed, turned, screamed, groaned, cried, and moaned. I never got upset, never became overwhelmed, exasperated, or frustrated. I just loved, prayed for her, was there for her, comforted her, and held her.

The Lord showed me something last night. When we cry out in the pain of whatever situation we find ourselves in, He's there. We may sound pretty frightful, hateful, or angry, but He doesn't get upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed. He loves us, comforts us, holds us, and is there for us. No matter the hour, no matter the situation. He is there...all through the night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Discovering Opportunities


Yesterday morning I got up early and drove in to meet a lady from our church and her husband for prayer. She was going in for knee replacement surgery, and I was going to pray with her before her procedure. It was one of those mornings that I'm sure you're familiar with. I was tired, it was dark and misty, and I had ton of things to get accomplished in my busy day. I so enjoyed getting to pray with the awesome lady and her husband. It was one of the joys of my day.

When I went to leave the hospital, now in full "I need to get a good start on my day so that I can get everything accomplished that I have set to do" mode, I became very much aware that it was now raining and raining hard. Oh how wonderful! Of course, it was NOT raining like this when I arrived, so I had no problem parking out in the back lot, where I didn't mind the walk up to the front entrance.

But before I could really get into a complaining mode, I noticed someone. She's an older lady who was upset that she didn't choose valet parking that day and had no interest in going out to get her car. By this time it was really raining intensly. I recognized that at that moment, I had an opporunity to really bless someone, regardless of what it might cost me. I told her that if I knew what car she drove I would be more than happy to pull it around for me. Well, very trustingly, she told me the make, model and color of her small car and off I went. Of course, by the time I had gotten to her car I was totally soaked in my fresh pressed dress clothes. I pulled around to where she was and gave her car back to her. I then ran across the lot to my own car, continuing to see how much more water my clothing could bear to take. But you know what? It was OK. I had discovered an opporunity in my everday life to bless someone. That blessed me.

Proverbs 11:25 reminds us that "he refreshes another will himself be refreshed." It wasn't my aim, but I left the hospital that day feeling refreshed, and thankful that God could use me in some small way that, at least for one person, made a signifcant difference.

What opporutnities are there for you to discover in your everday life?

Feeling Refreshed!


Tuesday night was really an incredible evening. One of the things that I have learned, and am learning, is that now that I am doing the preaching week and week out, being there for everyone, which I love doing, but I am finding myself tired and drained. That's not a problem when you regularly keep yourself in a place to be refreshed. Well, I'm still learning how to do that. See, before, I would, in addition to my daily quiet times with God, be able to sit in on a Sunday morning service and hear the pastor preach. Now, I'm the one they have to listen, too (I say that with lots of humor...yes, probably bad humor, but hopefully you're smiling at least a little).

Tueday night, Maria and I joined an event with MCM, a powerful network of church pastors in our area, for a time of intense worship, prayer, and being challenged and encouraged through the Word of God. I got to hear the unique ministry of Johannes something or another. I can't pronounce his name, have no idea how to spell it, but will forever be impacted by his ministry.

One of his main points, was just to remember that our reliance is to be upon the Holy Spirit, NOT ourselves. When we do whatever it is that God has called us to do...it's HE that does and it will be to HIS credit...not our own. What a great reminder. The Holy Spirit is a GOOD Holy Spirit. I thank God for His Spirit...His refreshing, His renewal, His "always there with you no matter what to give you what you need exactly when you need it." Yeah...that's good.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Baby Miraculously Survives Abortion, Expected to Live 'Normal' Life


I was reading this article today on http://www.foxnews.com/ and was once again amazed at the beauty of human life. How easy it is to forget that we do not create ourselves, but are part of a much bigger and divine plan. This is a story of a woman who feared losing her baby to a life-threatening disease, as had been the case for a previous child. The baby was already diagnosed in the womb. At 8 weeks, she went in for the abortion. At 19 weeks, she realized she was still pregnant. The baby was born. Although there was a condition, the baby is expected to live a full life.

Each life has a promise, a purpose, and lots of potential. You never know what God has stored up in the life a baby. I remember when my wife was pregant with all three of ours (not at the same time!), we looked forward to finding out the sex of the baby, because we wanted to name them immediately. Why? Because they were a God-created human being, and we wanted them to have identity. To us, they weren't just "the baby," "the child," and definitely not, "the fetus." To us, they were Vincent, Faith, and Nathan. All created by God.

Thirty years ago, there was a man and a woman who had been told by their doctors that they child she was carrying would not make it. There were too many complications and the child, if it were to make it, would not live a normal life. The couple went in for the abortion. The mom decided that she just couldn't do it and decided to have the baby anyway.

Well, I am so glad that she did, because that baby that wasn't supposed to live, or live normally, is my beautiful wife, the great mother of three awesome kids, an honor graduate from college, and a great encouragement to anyone she meets! God creats life, and life is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lest We Forget


In my special time between the creator of the universe, I have been rereading the book of Judges. I've been reading the Message, which has been really great in providing the same message in a fresh way. However, there is one line that really got me bothered. Judges 2: 10 soberingly says, "Eventually that generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work He had done for Israel."

Did you catch that?? We're talking about the God that created the world, destroyed it by flood, saved one family and replenished the earth, delivered an entire nation out of slavery, split the an entire ocean to allow them to walk on dry ground, fed them with bread from heaven and a water from a rock. And they forgot about Him. How did that happen? Regardless of how or why, the truth remains that it did.

It has been quoted that Christianity is always one generation from extinction. So many people have already forgotten how God is the author of all freedom...yeah that right...freedom, the freedom we enjoy in this nation. This great, but not perfect, nation...this ONE NATION UNDER GOD, the nation that once stood for IN GOD WE TRUST. The nation that once unashamedly declared that were all endowed by OUR CREATOR... My how we have forgotten His power, His providence, His provision.

We now live in a time where that which God sees as destestable is now seen by the people that once called on God, as acceptable. We kill babies out of convenience, we call homosexuality a natural orientation, we mock those who would stand up for the cause of Christ, we remove the mention of God, Christ, prayer from our schools, our monuments, our national institutions, and even our money. To declare the Truth of God is to be deemed hate speech.

The truth of God still stands strong. It doesn't have to be believed in order to remain truth. But, we need people who are NOT ashamed to stand up and declare that truth, to live that truth, lest we forget, and the next generation lives in ignorance due to our failure to teach them, to guide them, to lead them to the truth, that if they know it, it will set them free.