Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
In short, we need to pray like never before. We need to connect to the living source of all truth. We need to run to the feet of Jesus, reach out take hold of His hand and not let go. We need Jesus in our lives. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to take control!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
This last weekend, I shared with our church three keys in dealing with conflict within a relationship. The above video is funny, and a great example of one who has allowed pain, bitterness, rage, irritation, and disappointment to infect their ability to rationally deal with conflict.
Purpose Your Perception - We see what we want to see. So many conflicts are a result of people fighting for the other person to see what they see, rather than trying to see what the other one sees. It's a matter of pride vs. humility, and when pride wins, everyone loses.
Tame Your Temper - It's true that some people know just how to push your buttons, but you have the choice what is released when those buttons are pushed. When anger is control, God is not.
Monitor Your Mouth - It's easy to respond out of our hurt, our disappointment, our bitterness and our rage. However, when respond out of our hurt, it's hard for anyone to really hear. Words can bless and words can curse, but they can't do both and honor God at the same time.
This IS an impossible task...on our own. But God gives strength, He gives grace, and He forgives when blow it and need to start again!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
So many people fall into the trap that they are not good enough for God. They feel that everything they've tried has failed, so it must mean that they don't have what it takes. But the fact is, that Jesus became "not good enough" to show us that we don't have to be good enough. We'll never measure up to the standard to achieve His love on our own. It's only by HIS grace and HIS work on the Cross.
Don't allow discouragement to creep in and overwhelm you in your failures. Continue to see that Jesus' love doesn't stop because you - it continues because of you. When you realize this truth, let it compel you to live in a way that most honors Him.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It is so easy to bcome burdened with discouragement over what we don't see happening in our areas of performance. We become consumed in finding our status in our statistics. We give into the tauntings and gossip of others with their shallow observations of what's really going on. Al the while, our "Elkanah" is reminding us, "...you still have me..."
Our focus can become very skewed. We can get discouraged by what we see in our lives, and what we don't see happening in our lives. We can easily slip into the comparison trap, allowing bitterness to creep when as we compare ourselves to others. We need to remember that WE STILL HAVE JESUS! ...and He's MORE than enough. If we have Him and nothing else, we STILL have all that we'll ever need.
Don't be afraid to trust Him. If you feel as though you're at the end of your proverbial rope, please remember this simple truth. "When Jesus is all you have, then you'll find that Jesus is all you need."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This boggles my mind - that people, myself included at times, can't comprehend the love that Christ has hown us. If people could only understand how real it was...and still is. How He loved us, even as we were (or are) still sinners. Paul is saying here that if we could first understand that we might then experience that love, and that then we would be filled with a power that comes because of that love.
If you truly thought about or tried to more fully understand the depth of His love, how would that empower you to live differently? Would you be more compassionate, more patient, more sensititive, more understanding, or even a better friend, husband, or wife? Let His love be power that guides your life today!
Monday, August 17, 2009
There are going to be times when people are trying to follow Christ are going to be told that they're crazy; that what they believe doesn't make sense, or that what they're believing for isn't possible; that whay they do or don't do just doesn't seem "normal."
Paul was not shaken by that accusation. He was netiher afraid nor ashamed. he responded back with conviction that he was not insane, but was bold to speak the truth, and to believe God at His Word, no matter how uncomfortable it was. He was convinced in the God that had called him. He was convinced in God's faithfullness, His guidance, and His power.
Don't allow yourself to become intimidated when you know God is speaking something to you. Whether it's concerning a direction He's called you to take, or believing for a breakthrough in your marriage, finances, or job, just believe. Don't let anyone or anything tell you your're crazy. Just speak back: "I'm not crazy...I'm just convinced!"
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Have you ever felt this way? I know I have. Somedays it seems that if it could go wrong it does, and if it hasn't yet...it will. You go through the day, you look up and say, "God...I don't get it. What's the deal here??"
I am finding that with every day, comes a different task and a test that I have choice in how I respond. I can either choose to let it overwhelm me, or I can choose to allow it to motivate me to continue to trust, to continue to develop my weaknessess in His strengths.
The fact is, He does trust me. He trusts me...to trust Him. In Christ alone I have what I need to live in a way that is honoring to Him. And as I live in honor of Him, I begin to see the blessings of everyday life, and those blessings begin to outnumber the obstacles in my days. I begin to feel a strength that I had forgotten existed. I am strong in Him. I am more than a conqeror through Him. I can do all things through He strengthens me!
"Consider it pure joy when you faced with trials of many kinds, for it is the testing of your faith that develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its course, so that you may be mature and lack no good thing" (James 1:2-4)
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This statement has become a resonating voice in my heart. How easy it is to become so passionate about what you do and not take time to worship that God who gave you the ability to be passionate.
The question that I must ask myself, is am I putting the same quality of excellence in my worship of the God I say I love, as I do into the other things of my life? Sometimes it's so easy to "just get by" with God. Because, of course, He will understand...right? He knows we're busy. He knows we've got other things going on.
What's most important? Because, I know I make time for what is most important. And I put my heart and soul into what is most important. I don't try to "just get by" at my job, or in my marriage, or with my children. I give my all, because it deserves and requires my all. I love Jesus, because He gave His all. What other response is adeuate, but to give Him my all.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I met with four very different guys. Not all the same denomination. Not all the same age. Not all the same size church. Not all the same approaches to ministry. However, the principles that I gleaned from them over this past week will be very beneficial to me in helping me to continue to shape the leadership potential that God has created.
In the coming days, I will be sharing some of those lessons. I pray that you can benefit from them as well.
Vincent came along and had an incredible time. He got to spend some time with a family that has been an extra set of parents to me. They have treated me like a son and my children like grandchildren. Vincent got to go the beach, out to eat, and to the San Diego Zoo! Since our connecting flight in Dallas got bumped til today, Vincent got to spend time with his MiMi (my mother) and cousins he's never met. THEY HAD A BLAST!!! He even got to see his papaw's police car!
This week hadn't gone exactly how I'd expected, but God has used it in amazing ways. Yes, it most definitely was time well spent!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I have been the lead pastor at CrossWay Church for one week shy of a year. In this year, God has taught me so many things. One of the things that I have learned, is that I don't know anything! Outside of His guidance and His Spirit, I know nothing. Everything I have is in Him and everything I need is found in Him.
Think about it: If Jeremiah 29:11 is true and HE knows the plans that HE has for me, then it's a pretty good idea to get that much closer to HIM.
Monday, April 20, 2009
This weekend, I began a series entitled, "God Speaks." The first message in this series is called "When God Says NO." I like this little video, because obviously this little girl has gotten pretty used to hearing those words over and over and OVER and OVER!
Do you ever feel like that with God? No matter what, you're getting a NO. After all you've done and tried to do...and He still says "NO"? Sometimes that feels so insulting. But, what I'm learning is...that's NOT God's motivation at all. We don't always understand why He says "no." But, we need to understand that there are REASONS...reasons we may not understand or agree with, but reasons we need to trust.
- ...to PROTECT US - He knows what we don't know. He's protecting us from danger or sometimes from the destruction that our own pride will lead us to
- ...to keep us DEPENDENT on Him - are we dependent on our own logic and way of doing things, or are we dependent on HIS guidance, HIS ways, and HIS timing
- ...to DRAW us CLOSER to Him - the "no" should draw us closer to His heart and to His voice. Our desire should be to distance ourselves from anything that isn't His will or His timing.
- ...to TEST our HEARTS - what will we do with the "no." Will we run our own way or will we surrender and obey?
When God says "no", He's really saying: "I love you," "I have a plan for you," "I'm preparing your heart," "I'm doing a work in you," and "you really don't want me to say 'yes.'"
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Nathan, however, has his own method. From wherever this little crawling, non-walker, may be, he begins his journey to side door where I am taking off my shoes and hanging my keys. It takes him a little bit, but he gets there, grabs hold of my legs, pulls himself up, and embraces my legs. I pick him and hold him close, while he plants the side of his face on my chest and lays there. He doesn't speak with words, but my son communicates greatly and effectively.
You know, God's love is so great in my life. I have always known it, even at times when I didn't feel very "lovely" or "loving." But, through it all, I have grown more and more in love with Him. No matter what I'm going through, He is there ready to embrace me. My heart, like my son to me, is to get so close to Him, reach out for Him, to have Him embrace me in His arms. I can pursue loving Him, because He first pursued loving me.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Our youngest son, Nathan, will be one on Sunday the 15th, but we celebrated a little bit tonight...with a cake! You gotta watch this and understand that for the first year, our children eat NO sweets...at least none that we're aware of. Their reaction to the cake is always fun!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
It seems so overly idealistic to try to get it to look as fascinating as the pictures portray. And once you do get the house of cards built (not that I will be the one in charge of construction), it continues to be fragile. One card moves, the entire structure comes crashing down, in a soft, cards kind of way.
Do you ever feel like that? That your life is like a house of cards. You feel like you've worked so hard to get things a certain way. You crashed and burned and have paid your dues. You finally get the structure built, and out of nowhere, one card gets moved, and the whole thing comes crashing down.
I know a lot of people right now who are going through situations that could make them feel this exact same way. Jobs, family, marriages, children...oh, the list can go on and on.
Martin Luther once said this: "Feelings come and feelings go And feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God, Naught else is worth believing. "
"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God." (Psalm 40:1-3 (MSG))
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Well, I grabbed the Bennydryl, called a guy on my board who "just happens" to be a pediatrician at Children's Hsopital, and was told to take him to the local ER. Once, there, they told me there was some wheezing in his lungs and would need to be transported by ambulance to Children's and admitted overnight for obersvation. Then they gave him a breathing treatment and stuck him for an IV. Oh, how he cried.
On the way down in the ambulance, my mind started to go where any parent's mind would...you know, to all the places it SHOULDN'T go. Then I realized something. 4 years ago, my wife and dedicated him to the Lord. No matter what, God is in control. No, that doesn't mean that nothing will ever happen to him. But, it does give me the peace of mind to know that God loves him even more than I do. Of course, that's hard for me to believe, but I do. Because of THAT, I know that I can trust Him.
Friday, February 6, 2009
So, last night on the way back from FoodLand, I'm talking to Vincent and I ask him, "do you know how much Daddy loves?" He responded back very quickly with a huge smile, "you love me too much, Daddy!" I looked back at him and said, "if that were only possible."
I think that's similar to heart of God. He has blessed us in such immense ways, shown His love for us in ways that we just cannot fathom, yet with God, there is no such thing as TOO MUCH LOVE. His very essence is love. 1 John 4:8 reminds us that GOD IS LOVE.
I pray that you are reminded today that no matter what, God, your Heavenly Father, loves you so much. So much in fact, in our own human understanding, it seems like to much. "If that were only possible." I'm so glad it's not!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
It often reminds me of a story told by Tony Campolo. I want to share with you:
The God we worship is a hidden God. HE does not force us to confront Him, but waits patiently for the time to come when we will seek Him out. He longs for us to seek after Him with heart and mind and soul.
A rabbi's child was playing hide and seek with some children. She went away and hid herself. But the other children acted cruelly. While she was hiding, they ran away and left her behind.
When the little girl realized she had been abandoned by her friends, she went running home and threw herself into her father's arms and cried, "Daddy, I was hiding and nobody tried to fine me!" The father hugged his daughter and said, "God understands. He understands more than you realize."
Indeed, it must be the ultimate frustration of God that we seldom seek Him out. The Bible says that if we truly seek Him, we will find Him."
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
It explores the heart within human tragedy. It seeks to help answer questions that everyone has about the nature and character of God when bad things happen to good people. And what's more, is that it seeks to answer them in layman's terms.
The book has come under fire from certain theological circles concerning the character of God in the story. Let me just say that's funny that humans living within an finite existence find it within their credibility to arrogantly declare the rights on knowing the exact form and character of an INFINITE God.
The story line is indeed both challenging and liberating. Challenging, because it takes you task on all preconceived notions of the sovereignty of God in ALL situations. It challenges your emotions, your thoughts, and your heart...towards others and towards God. It also challenges you to forgive...even at times when you think that forgiveness is utterly impossible.
It also is liberating, as it frees you to know that you're not the only one that has had these questions. It's also liberating to know that God is not offended because you DO have these questions. It's a refreshing look at the love, grace, and redemption that comes from the only One that truly knows how to live out the concept of UNCONDITIONAL love.
I highly recommend this book. It's a great read. Just make sure you have time...because it's very hard to put down after the first couple of chapters!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I pray that today you think about your family. Think about the blessing that they are to you. Whether it's you and the wife or husband, maybe a few kids, or perhaps extended family or church family that helps you know that you belong. Invest in them. Realize that time is a great thing when we have it, but it's not something that we're promised.
God has been showing me, that it's not just the time you put into the family, but the heart you put into the time.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Of course, being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I'm being asked all the time who I am rooting for today. Hmmm...it's actually a very interesting question. I moved to the Pittsburgh area 4 years ago from the philly area. Yeah, I know...going from one place of hate to another when it comes to football. But, I decided, you know what...I can root for the Steelers, too. I don't have the same feelings for them as I do the Eagles, and they're not in my division, and not even in my conference should be ok.
Well, well, well...that didn't go so well. That next season, the church I was the youth pastor at, was very instrumental in the direction of my attitude. LOL! One Sunday morning, the pastor took my Cowyboys winter jacket to the stage where the congregation BOOED, then throwing it to the floor while they cheered. THEN, going to my car at the end of service, someone actually egged my car!
So....who am I rooting for? LOL!!! All I can say, is I'm sure I will get it today for wearing a white shirt and red tie! Actually, I'm not all that crazy about the Cardinals, but there are three things about them that I do like. 1) I met the coach in the Pittsburgh Airport while taking 30 teenagers on a missions trip to Mexico. He talked to a few of the guys and took a picture with them. 2) I'm a BIG fan of Kurt Warner - He's such an example of Christian chararcter. 3) I'm a sucker for the underdog - yes, I, too cheered for the NY Giants last year!
Either way...one of the things I love about the Super Bowl, is that it gets people together around a common love, not of football, but the unity that comes from it. God, too, has called us to unite together, regardless of our differences in sports teams, political affialiations, churches, etc... He called us to LOVE one another. It's a tough task to tackle, but so worth it!!
Friday, January 30, 2009
As the match continued, they'd go round and round, and then contact was made. Even though it didn't seem like there was alot of action at times, you could definitely see the fatigue that began to enter the match as well. Once one of the wrestlers got the other in a hold that put him close to the pin position, it was mostly just a matter of time. If he could just hold him there, the one on the mat usually did most of the work. You see, the one in control would just hold him there and let him wear himself out. The one on the mat would sqirm and fight to keep himself from being pinned. If there was enough time on the clock, he would eventually wear himself out and the referee would declare a pin.
In our lives, there is a conintual wrestling match. We face off with our fears, our struggles, our temptations, even our anger. Basically, we wrestle with sin. The concept is the same. If, in our own strength, we try to fight against it, with our own will power, we will wear down. 2 Corinthians 10:4 reminds us that the weapons of our warfare, or our fight, are not carnal. They are not our own (logic, strength, strategy), but they are might in HIM. The secret power to the spritual wrestling match is surrender. It doesn't make sense in the natural (as I'm sure it would never be coached from the side), but spiritually, it's the only way to win. We don't surrender to our opponent, we surrender to the One in whom we have the strength and the victory.
Remember, that it's not by our own might or power, but by HIS SPIRIT that we have been made overcomers and victorious!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Faith, immediately hearing the music playing in the living room, said, "Daddy, dance with me...dance with me, Daddy." I picked her up, and we danced around and around and around again. My little princess had a smile upon her face that was complete in Daddy's arms. She was dancing with her father. And you know what was really neat? She wasn't really dancing at all. I held her. I embraced her. I was the one moving here and there and all around. She just held on, looked in my eyes, and smiled.
It reminds me of our Father in Heaven. Just to dance with Him...to be held by Him, and to gaze into His eyes. He longs to dance with us. He longs to hold us. We don't have to do all the moving, just be held by Him and move with Him. What a beautiful dance.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Yesterday, I went to return a car that I had borrowed while our minivan was in the shop. Now, you have to understand that my wife and I have three children (4, 2 &1), so obviously we have 3 car seats. Well, I remembered to transfer two of them and remembered the third one just after pulling on the PA Turnpike on my way home. So, what does one do? I'll tell you. I drove down about a half mile across from the church I where I used to be the youth pastor. My great idea was set. I would have the car seat brought over to the church, where I would cross over 2 lanes of traffic, jump over a concrete median, and cross 2 more lanes of traffic. Then I would have the car seat thrown down to me, and return the way I came, but this time carrying a car seat. By the way, this was about 4:45pm just as traffic is starting to heat up.
So, what did I learn from this that I can share with you. PAY ATTENTION! There's so much in our lives that God wants to do, and I believe that many times we are so focused on other things that we miss the obvious, and put ourselves in situations where we add to our own chaos. Sometimes, we just need to slow down.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Ok, let me be straight forward. I did not vote for Barack Obama. He wasn't my choice. But, let me be even more straight forward. That fact does not matter. He is, as of today, MY president. He needs MY support, MY prayers, and MY allegiance. I don't have to agree with everything he says or does...and I'm pretty confident that I won't. But, I believe that God has called us to be better than those who would choose to ridicule, mock, and disrespect those who have been elected to carry the burden of a nation.
So, I encourage and emplore you today, regardless of how you voted or what your feelings may be today, to stand beside President Obama, and to pray for him, that God would lead him and reveal Himself to him, his family, and this nation like never before.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today I had lunch with a guy that I have a lot of respect, admiration, and love for. Yeah sure, he's a former member of the world renown Harlem Globetrotters. And yes, he's travelled the world doing basketball tricks and speaking to large audiences. And well, yes, he's been on the radio and television. But that's not why I feel the way I do. You see, in a world where people will say and do anything they can to impress, this guy is the real deal.
Having lunch with him today was great, in that it let me see a glimpse of a heart that is so not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ate a place, and while waiting for the food, Seth gets up and goes over privately, without saying anything as he left the table, and spends some time getting to know the guy and invites him to church. Yeah...this guy's the real deal.
And by the way, he's also the guy that replaced me as youth pastor to some really awesome teenagers. I am so thankful to God for him. He's the right guy at the right time. And of course he would hate to read these things about himself, but it's ok. He doesn't read blogs! But, if you get a chance, check out some more about this suthentic lover of Jesus Christ. www.sethfranco.com
What an amazing story that occurred in real life yesterday! An American Airline aircraft took off from a major New York airport heading south. I know, that's not much of a story...it happens everyday. What is amazing, is that shortly after the plane took off, it was forced to make an emergency "splash landing" in the Hudson River.
The amazement continues as pictures and video show heroic actions of the pilot and boats that arrived quickly to the scene to rescue every single passenger and crew member. In 40 degree waters, 20 minutes would have been enough to take any of them unconscious. Amazing!
Something else strikes me as amazing. The cause of the need for a splash landing that could have resulted in countless deaths of human life. Geese. Yeah, that's right...birds. Something so small in comparison to a giant aircraft actually had the power to put many lives into imminent danger.
What about in your personal life? What are the things that seem so small, but left unattended have the same potential power to ground you? We ignore and neglect the little things, because we think they don't matter. But, just ask the 155 lives on board that craft if little things don't matter. So, any geese in your life that need to be dealt with?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Why does this bother me so much? Well, first of all...IT'S STINKING COLD OUTSIDE!! I am global warming-ed out, and it's cold. What's more, is that so much has gone into this global warming non-sense, and temperatures are getting colder, and there are still people that are dying without knowing Jesus, destined to spend eternity in hell.
So, forgive me if I am tired of global warming, while "eternity warming" is heating up. It's not the planet I'm concerned about, it's where are people going once there time on this planet is over. The temperatures here are cooling off, but time is running out. And, there are people who are more concerned about things that don't matter while the people we love, work with, go to school with, or see around town or living their lives without the knowlege Christ. That my friend is the inconvenient truth. So...what about it?
Friday, January 9, 2009
I am so thankful to serve a God who is faithful to His promise! Everytime He says that He will take care of me, He does, always has. There were many times during those 6 1/2 months or so that I battled discouragement over why hasn't God moved mountains to sell our house and let us move to the community He called us to? Maybe we messed up. Maybe we're not praying enough. Maybe... Maybe we just need to wait, seek, and trust. Yeah, that was the one!
God is faithful! I pray that as you read this today, you will be encouraged in no matter what leg of the journey you are traveling today!