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Showing posts from December, 2008

Say Goodbye to 2008!

PHIL 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This week we have been looking at some things to help us leave 2008 in the best way possible. Monday we forgot the past. Tuesday we stretched our faith and reached beyond our comfort zone. Today, the final day of 2008, we press on towards the goal to win the prize. The good news is that the year is over and YOU are still here! You may have thought that those challenges and trials were going to get the best of you but instead, they brought out the best in you!

There was a woman in Mark 5 that pressed on until she was able to touch Jesus. She had been sick for more than a decade. S…

S...T...R...A...I...N!

Forget what is behind and STRAIN towards what lies in front of you. The best part of your life is yet to come. Everything that you need to live the life that God designed for you is already in you and just has to be stretched out in the direction of your dreams. When you strain forward you reach beyond what is comfortable. Often it hurts which is why it is called straining. But if you keep straining you will reach it! Strain...don't complain!

We've got one more day left to put things in order and walk into 2009 with a clean slate and a fresh start. Now that you have let the past stay in the past and started to stretch yourself forward in ways that you have not stretched before, things will begin to happen and doors will begin to open that no man can shut. Today allow yourself to be optimistic and encourage yourself in the Lord! You can do anything that God says you can do. You can be anything that God says you can be. Reach beyond the comfort zone today and see what happens. Ke…

All Things Are Possible

Yesterday was a first for me and for The Landing. I was preaching in South Carolina at St Helena Baptist Church and in Glenpool Oklahoma at The Landing at the same time! I spent a great deal of time getting ready in Tulsa and preparing a message and filming it before I flew to South Carolina. I found out that filming a service takes much more effort and energy than just being there to do it. But I left my end of the year message at home on video so that I could personally give the closing message of the year. From what I heard from The Landing all went well. I was live in South Carolina at my parents church and enjoyed worship being led by my brothers son Johnny, and then a performance by my brother John's family right before I gave the morning message. It was historic and moving in many ways.
As all of this was unfolding I realized that our only limitations are on ourselves. If we allow God to have control and to orchestrate our steps we can do so many wonderful things. I was hum…

No Refunds without Receipt

This will be the phrase of the day...many people will be going to the mall to exchange clothes that don't fit, gadgets that don't work and presents they don't want. And most of the stores will require you to have the receipt for the exchange. Though some will take your returns, some stores will stick to this policy and you will be sent home with something that you will probably re-gift somewhere down the road.
The key to dealing with these exchanges is attitude...stay positive and don't get angry...no matter what the outcome. Let patience do her thing. Remember all that joy, peace and love that you have been clinging too for the last few days? Don't let it go back with your gift. Hold on to those feelings and more importantly, hold on to the Lord that is the author and finisher of our faith. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
I know...you have to go make your exchanges...no time to read today. Go! Go in peace! Go with God! And don't forget your receipt!

Delivery Day!

Anyone that has ever had a child knows that the day of delivery is one of the most miraculous moments you can experience. The arrival of the baby always overshadows all of the pain and discomfort of the pregnancy. I am certain that when Mary and Joseph looked into the eyes of baby Jesus, they forgot they were in a stable, they were unaware of the smells around them and they no longer felt exhausted by the trip to Bethlehem.
The birth of a dream will also produce energy and spiritual fire that burns away the period of difficulty and discomfort. To bring forth a dream will require a season of carrying it and allowing it to grow with you. You will undergo some changes and you will be "shaped" by God as you continue on. Often, right before the realization of a dream there is a period of painful contractions that you pray would be taken away. To overcome these pains you and I must surround ourselves with loved ones that will help us push and breath through the pain. And if we keep…

Fight the Good Fight

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Paul encouraged Timothy to always hold dearly the memory of how he entered the ministry and to use those memories to fuel his passion to fight the good fight of faith. When was the last time you fought for something that was important to you? Or for someone? Too often we may give in to things that should not be given power over us. Your family is worth fighting for. Your friends are worth fighting for. And your faith...yes, that is a good fight!

Many people will gather in their places of worship this evening for a candlelight communion service. We will have one at The Landing as well. We will also receive communion.…

Irrefutable Evidence

ACTS 14:1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Anytime that you begin to speak to a group of people you will face some adversity. Evangelism always brings with it some distractions and disruptions. As Paul was speaking to large numbers of people there were some unbelievers that began poisoning the minds of Paul's hearers. I would imagine that this meant they would make up things that were not true to try and persuade others to stop listening to them. If you decide to go into any type of ministry endeavor, you can almost always expect opposition. How you deal with those disruptions will eith…

Joy-FULL

IN Jesus' prayer in John 17, He asked that we would have the ability to experience the full measure of joy that He was able to attain. He desired that our joy may be full...Joy FULL. In a time such as this with so much uncertainty around us, with shoppers frantically looking for the perfect gift with a limited budget, tensions are elevated. How sad to miss the wonderful joy and peace of Christmas by being overwhelmed with tension, anxiety and stress. Because of what Christ did for us, we have the opportunity to be infected with joy that will enable us to dig into our spirit and find joy when others around us are unable to find happiness.
We need to develop a lifestyle of joy. Can you stop for a moment today and just think about all of the good things that God has done for you this year? Can you put the hustle and bustle of the daily grind aside to allow the peace of God to permeate your entire being?
We used to sing a song that said Jesus was as close as the mention of His name. S…

You Can Do It!

Galatians 3:1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

We are winding down the last of the year 2008. The important thing to remember about following the Lord is that the end is just as crucial as the beginning. Ministry is like a marathon: its not so much how you start but how you finish. Many times we run out of steam right before the finish line. Paul was confused at how the Galatians could start so strong and then give out down the road. It still happens today. This month folks are…

Ch,ch,ch,changes...

It was a lyric from an old David Bowie tune. It happens ALL the time. How do you deal with change? When you are interrupted or distracted by a sudden shifting of your circumstances, how do you respond? This week, our local schools have been out due to bad weather. Three days in a row, the usual routine of the week was changed. All I could think about was how that changed the lives of people. Mom and Dad still need to work. There are groceries to by and meetings to attend. I know that this has been a tough week for many.
There are many things that are out of our control. Change is one of them. Things happen. Meetings are postponed. School is cancelled. We must learn the art of flexibility. Learning how to "adjust" to whatever comes our way will help us to live a stress free, anxiety absent life. Imagine Mary and Joseph, after traveling to Bethlehem for the census, nearly at the point of having this baby and being told there is no place to stay. The bible does not tell us the e…

The Final Cookie

Yes, that's right, tonight is our final installment of the Christmas Cookies series at The Landing. It's always sad when the meal is over and its time to clean up the dishes! The good news is that these edible and edifying bites that we have enjoyed can be enjoyed even when the season is over.
To prepare for our final cookie I was taken back to yet another of my favorite scriptures: Deuteronomy 28. In this chapter you have an incredible listing of blessings. Most of us have heard them preached and get all excited anytime that we hear them. But there is another part to that chapter. And most of us will stop reading before we get there. It's the listing of curses. You see when we make the right choices, do the right things and say the right words we move in sync with the blessings part. But when we deny the power of God and choose to go about things our own way, there are some terrible consequences. You mean that God;s blessing is conditional? Absolutely! Look that the very …

Saturated with Blessing

This weekend at The Landing we had our annual Christmas event. The event always features some dialogue and a life lesson. Throughout the performance are a spattering of musical numbers by an ensemble of 15 and several soloists and even a trio! As each number was done I was taken back to some heartfelt moments in my life. You see the play was called Christmas through the Decades and it featured music from the 40's through the present day. It's funny how a song can connect you to a memory. Some of the moments brought joy to my heart while others made me cry. Overall, I was sitting there in the middle of one of the most anointed churches I have been in and I was saturated in the blessing of God. I mean I really felt Him!
As you get ready for Christmas I want to encourage you to basque in the blessings that surround you. You may have hit a tough patch and there may be difficulties all around you. But the fact that you are reading this is a good indicator that your heart is searchi…

A Dozen

Today is my daughter's twelfth birthday. She's a dozen years old. Great things come in dozens...a dozen roses...a dozen numbers on a clock...a dozen Krispy Kremes...the song 12 Days of Christmas...even Jesus dialed in the number 12 when he was looking for guys to surround himself with. There may be no spiritual lesson to 12 but that is what I am thinking about today. So today I am going to shake things up a bit. Starting at the hour of this post, 8am, every hour I am going thank God for something different. Imagine that? Today, I will be going to Him with thanksgiving at least a dozen times! What is every day I was able to purposefully go to the Lord with thanksgiving 12 times? What if people all over the world today were to to this too! Can you imagine how the Lord would feel to be hearing from His children so frequently...not with a wish list but with a grateful heart. Maybe a lifestyle change will begin today?
So thanks to Jordan, for giving me some inspiration. More importa…

TGIF

Thank God It's Friday! As a kid I used to anticipate Friday because it was the end of the school week and the start of a two day break. I grew older and my life changed but I still held on to that TGIF feeling. When I began The Landing and started to preach every weekend something happened. The two day break was gone. Often I would study most of the day Saturday and then after preaching Sunday morning and leading worship I would be brain dead until Monday. The wonderful TGIF feeling was replaced. What did I replace it with? I'm glad you asked! TGIA! Thank God I'm Alive!
Now I don't need a break to be thankful I just need this older and wiser body to get out of bed and start walking through another opportunity filled day. Weekends are still exciting but nothing in comparison to having the opportunity to live another day with Christ and see what blessings He brings my way!
Maybe your weekends have changed too. If that is the case, join me each day as you wake up and move …

Did I say ALL things?

Yesterday you read my post regarding simple mistakes with dramatic results. I forced myself to trust God, let the dust settle and see what would happen. One of my Board Members called me around lunchtime and gave me the name of a friend of theirs that used to book travel. He said that she may not be able to do anything but you could call her and see. Her name was Marilyn. I called Marilyn and she told me that I had done what I should do but that she would try to call her airline representative and see what happens. In less than 10 minutes she had called me back and they were willing to change the flight with no others costs!

After this incredible turn of events had transpired I just began to think about how often I worry and fret over things that God can work out if I as James says, "let patience do her perfect work." Did you ever think about that scripture? What is the perfect work that patience is doing? Let me suggest 2 things: 1-personal perfection in the knowledge of the…

What a difference...

a click makes. I am flying my oldest son home for the holidays. Everyone is excited to see him and though it is expensive to fly, I knew he would like it better and I was thanking God that I was blessed enough to be able to do it. Then, yesterday, like an unannounced and unwelcome visitor, I looked at the e-ticket confirmation only to see that I had booked him to fly home January 29th instead of December 29th! Innocent mistake, I just clicked the wrong month...surely the airlines will understand. In my dreams! From the peaceful joy to the world sounds I was listening to of Holiday Music with the smooth velvet voice of Karen Carpenter, I was thrown into a tailspin as they informed me changes could not be made unless I paid all of these unbelievable fees. The fees amounted to twice the price of the ticket! So my innocent little "click" very quickly made me "sick" and it got worse as the airlines began to "stick" it to me!
Now, I have to practice what I preac…

Sacred Moments

This morning I felt that intimate embrace of Christ. As the storm that surrounded us last night made its way out of the area, a peace and calm fell upon the city. I was up early and the noise of the day had not yet arrived. The sun was still hiding below the horizon. Then suddenly, a glimpse of a new day began to peek above the landscape and light the day. I felt a warmth like that of a blazing fire come over me and I began to thank the Lord for another new day...new mercies...new people...new friends. And then I felt such a brokenness that I began to ask God to forgive me for the things that I did and said that He was not pleased with. Tears filled my eyes as I began to feel His divine embrace, letting me know that everything was going to be fine and that He loved me in spite of those times I made Him unhappy.
I stayed in that moment for what seemed to be hours, though it was only a few moments and then I asked Him to help me be the father that He created me to be. To help me love th…

No Room

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

It's part of the Christmas story taken from Chapter 2 of the Book of Luke. Joseph travels back to his homeland for the census with his pregnant wife by his side. It had to be difficult. Number one, they weren't married. This was a divine happening and those types of things usually conflict with natural intelligence. The second thing that made this trip tough is that she was pregnant. It's easy to understand this. Traveling any distance in this condition is hard on the body and the emotions. But the last thing is hard to …

Living in Peace

Jesus once said "my peace I give to you." He also said that it was not the same peace as the worlds peace. Often we tend to think of peace as nothing more than an absence of conflict. But peace in God is so much more. His peace enables us to be still and trust when chaos is happening all around us. That is why He said it was peace that goes beyond understanding. The peace that we sing about this season, the peace we pray for satisfies every need and every area of our lives. Let the peace of God rule your heart scripture says. Peace acts like a filter and when it is activated in our lives it keeps our hearts from being damaged by unpeaceful situations and peace takers.
We are called to be peace-makers. When it is at all possible, live at peace with everyone. Without it, we will fall to pieces.
Are you living in peace today or falling to pieces? The Prince of Peace wants to surround you and fill you with joy, love and hope. Grace and peace be yours and have a blessed weekend!

WatchYour Mouth!

I am certain that those very words were uttered by my parents at some point in my life. It was probably because the things I was saying were not good. The older I get the more I realize how important words are. God has equipped you and me with some wonderful tools to enhance the life of those around us. Did you realize that you have the power today to either lift someone up and make them feel better or send them spiraling downward? Words can be weapons. People die because they were spoken to in the wrong manner. Maybe we should have a big sign by our door that we read every morning before we leave which says..."watch your mouth!".
Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." It means that when words are spoken at the right time and in the proper way, they can add value and beauty to the one hearing them. If "faith comes by hearing" why is it hard to see that so does doubt and so can pain?
This is the season of adv…

Christmas Cookies

Tonight at The Landing I begin a three week series that's called Christmas Cookies. There are some cookies that only come out at Christmas time. They are unique to this season which makes them unlike any other cookie. I had my mom send me some of my childhood favorites. And starting tonight, thanks to my good friend Stephanie Stapleton (Chef Stapleton), our church will enjoy some of my favorites while I talk about this subject. There are also some spiritual cookies that I nibble on at Christmas and even chew on throughout the year. My Favorite cookies: My Favorite Scriptures
I am so excited about this one!
Tonights cookie, well we start with a taste-bud extravaganza. Clue...there are several layers! And the spiritual cookie also has a variety of ingredients that are sure to brighten your day and light up your night! Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!
I know, you are probably hungry now and thinking about your own Christmas Cookies. Can you smell them now? Follow the recipe, u…

Priorities

I was sickened in my stomach this past weekend at the news of the Long Island Walmart store where the security guard was was trampled at the door by shoppers. I was shocked, discouraged and somewhat bewildered by all of that. I had a difficult time comprehending how people could run over a person and step on them for toys and tv's and "stuff". And then it dawned on me...this is our society and culture. What do you mean Cup of Joe?
Jesus said in Revelation, "Behold I stand at the door and knock". If we open it He promises fellowship with us and a life of health in every area. But we tend to walk right over Jesus to the stuff that has become more important...our clothes, our home and car, our friends. Trampling Christ under our feet to go after things. Beating down a doorway that Christ promises to open if we just ask! Many people do this at Christmas. We become more interested in what we are after than what is right there in front of us. It's not about the d…

Stop gazing...

Well that weekend is OVER! I am still trying to learn how to do the holiday routine solo as my new normal has not manifested yet...but I keep moving forward. I was preaching about HOPE yesterday as we began our Season of Advent at The Landing. Hope is defined as a cherished expectation that something good is going to happen. I had a difficult time separating myself from His mission as I often feel unworthy to deliver inspiring, life changing messages. In fact, when you aren't used to doing Thanksgiving without family, you can feel somewhat hopeless! And then it was as if God whispered these words into my ear and allowed them to immediately drop into my heart...
Joe, stop gazing at what has left and start praising Me for what is about to come. The season of advent is about hope, expectation and the arrival of Christ. It's what advent means: the coming and arrival of Christ. The first advent was as a baby. The second will be as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Maybe you have s…