Showing posts from November, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

"Once upon a time" is a staple of story beginnings. There are only a few movies that begin with this phrase in the title and for the most part they are filled with quality and length. Imagine today that we were able to write our own story. We would begin with this popular opening..."once upon a time" and then the story begins.  I can predict that our stories will be adventurous, dangerous and at times exhilarating. There will be incredible high times of joy and happiness and there will also be overwhelming times of pain and sorrow. Every good story has some wonderful characters and ours will be no different. Heroes and villains, stable and unstable, loyal and well, not so loyal. And when the story is finished, the way we would write it, we would most likely live forever and be incredibly joyful! The reality of our lives is this: God has a plan. He has the pen and we provide the canvas on which He can write. Through every situation He will write a way out of difficult…

Growing Up

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God. 1 Peter 2:1-3msg There is no better time to begin to make a clean sweep than this time of year as we prepare to go into  a new year and a clean slate. If you look deeply, you can see that God has had His hand upon you and your journey all year long and though there have been times that nothing made sense, you can be assured that one day very soon you will see things much clearer.
As believers we are supposed to be getting stronger and more and more healthy every year...fully mature and fully devoted to God. Imagine how silly it would look for your teenager to be drinking out of a sippy cup and having a pacifier tied to his t-shirt. Yet, many followers of Christ seem to be bottle fed year and after year and deny themselves the wonderful experi…

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This weekend I had the honor of seeing a few performances of this premiere event in South Florida for the last 28 years. The Pageant has two acts, one filled with modern day seasonal song and dance numbers and one that dramatically takes you through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Maybe I'm a bit partial because my brother is the musical director and Executive Pastor at this church but I have to say, this is a perfect way to begin preparing your heart and life for the season of Christmas. I sat in different parts of the auditorium for each of the four performances. I was also able to mix and mingle with many of the nearly 1000 incredibly gifted people it takes to do such an event. As I watched the "mechanics" of this come together I kept thinking about "the church". Let me tell you what I learned.
First, you and I were made to use talent and energy that is within us to connect with each other and connect others to Jesus. Most of these volunte…

That Special Deal

Most of you will have already been to the mall by the time this article publishes. The stores are opening even earlier this year...what is going on! Why not just have the sale right after the football game is over on Thanksgiving and that way we can run off the turkey?
I refuse to jump into the pile of consumers that early in the morning. If that is the only time that you can get "that special deal" I am going to miss it. Something tells me that if I let patience have her perfect work, that deal will come along again before the 25th of December. Have you ever thought about the kind of deals that we could all get if we just made a decision as a group to not go to the mall the day after Thanksgiving? The stores would go into panic mode and if we waited throughout the entire weekend, they would probably be giving stuff away in the parking lot!
I know that for many of you this is a tradition and you go to be part of the festivities. I wish you well today. Don't fight over t…
May God bless all of you and your families as you enjoy this day of thanks and giving!
Rejoice always,
pray constantly,
and IN everything
Happy Thanksgiving!

A Real Thanksgiving

Matt 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation.35 And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?38-39 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?'40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me-you did it to me.'
Today, a part of our ministry will feed a Thanksgiving meal to folks in our community. A real thanksgiving t…

Yeah God!

There is nothing so refreshing as having your own personal Word from God. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat was about to stare down an enemy that was coming to take him out. A normal person might be afraid. Someone else might have turned and run away. But not Jehoshaphat! He didn't phone a friend or poll the audience...he went to the Lord for instruction. He talked to God like you would talk to your best friend. And God began to shake things up a bit.
All of the people got together to pray and to fast seeking the Lord. They did not know what to do but they stayed focused on God! And God spoke through a prophet with some exciting news: "you won't have to fight this battle...just stand still and see what I can do!" This produced a resounding sound through the men, women and children and as soon as they began to shout and praise the Lord set ambushed against the enemies! It was an amazing "yeah God" moment!
If you are facing some challenges today and you've …

Text Me!

Have you realized how our lives have changed since the addition of the cellphone? When we use the cellphone to connect we no longer ask people how they are, we ask them where they are. With caller ID and text messaging, we no longer have to have a conversation with anyone unless we want to pick up the phone. Our kids say, don’t call me…text me!
I miss the days when we could dial a number and get a live person on the other end. When you didn’t have to hear an answering machine tell you when you could speak and leave your message. Aren’t you glad God does not require a family plan or a media package to connect to Him? He's never too busy to connect with you. His coverage has no gaps and there are no dropped calls! No need to worry about 3G or 4G when you're walking with the Big G!
In Jeremiah 33:3 He says, Call me and I will answer…not just that but he goes on to say I’ll show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know. Valuable information that you and I …

Do Good!

I wonder if you have ever arrived at the place where you were just worn out, frustrated and nearly hopeless? Let me encourage you with these simple words...

"So don't get tired of doing what is good."Galatians 6:9
Life is challenging. As you participate in the human race you run the possibility of getting injured or hearing things that could take the wind out of your sails. In the middle of the chaos, when the pain is increasing we have got to remind ourselves that we were created to do the right thing. It's inside of you right now! We cannot afford to get discouraged to the point that we give in or give up.
Whenever we have the chance, wherever there is an opportunity, we should be and do good to everyone, especially towards other believers. (Galatians 6:10)
It may be a little rough right now. You may feel those old emotions that you thought were dead rising up again within you. Ask God to give you strength. Renew YOUR mind by reading about what is on HIS mi…

Thank You God!

Every time your name comes up in my prayers,
I say, "Oh, thank you, God!" (Philemon 1:4 MSG)
Can you imagine being able to say this about those in your circle of influence? When was the last time that you actually thanked God for
the people He has placed around you?
Today let's remember that the person who wants friends needs to first be friendly! Where would you be without those closest to you?
Picture them in your mind and go ahead and say it: "thank you God!"

Taking a Step

There is a story in Luke 17 about ten people with leprosy. This illness prohibited them from human contact and personal interaction. They lived in a village with people like themselves and had no contact with anyone outside of the colony. One day Jesus passed by on his way to Jerusalem. As he passed by they lifted their voice and asked for pity. They cried "Jesus, Master" signifying that they were appealing to him as a teacher. But they did not ask to be healed, only to be pitied. Jesus gave them a task: "go and show yourselves to the priests". It was at that moment that we can see the ten experience something they have never felt before. They must have had something inside of them agree with the reliability of the one that spoke to them because they went at his command. And "as they went" they were healed!
Know this today in the midst of your life and situations.
When people can't REACH you, JESUS can.
What people can't TEACH you, JESUS …

The Will of God

1 THES 5:12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Look at verse 14…there are four important things to do while  you and I are trying to live in peace.
Warn those who are idle-encourage the timid-help the weak-be patient with EVERYONE! Even yourself! It’s time to help each other learn how to respond and how to behave and stop saying its not my job or I don’t want to get involved. Revenge is not our option. Let God be judge, not you. Life will go so much better! Make s…

Joetry for Veterans Day

They fought to give us freedom,
with courage and with grace.

They rose to meet the challenge
of our enemies face to face

Their hearts would beat together,
their blood,red, white and blue.

They came, they fought ,they conquered
it's what they had to do

Today we must remember
for each one of them made choices

to defend our nations liberty
to be part of the Armed Forces.

Thank you to every Veteran for your relentless commitment to preserving the freedom we enjoy in the United States of America.

God bless all of you!

How Much is Your Sin Going to Cost Me?

It's very clear that we are more connected that we might think. They used to call this a dog eat dog world but unfortunately no one realized that we are all "leashed" together. In other words, what you do affects me. What I do affects you. God had a plan for this. It had to do with honor: honoring one another. LO4EO: look out for each other. (Read Romans 12)
In every scandal the media points out to us we can see a leader, a victim and a large group of people, connected but not really intimately involved. Still, what happens has a profound impact on the everyone. My sin will cost you. Your sin costs me.
The way to honor each other is to stay realize that you are tethered to people...created for fellowship and relationships. Of course the most important relationship we can have is a vertical one with our God. When that one is right, you keep evil desires and bad influences at bay and you develop strength to overcome. Evil will always be around us. People wi…

Fill YOUR Cup

It means to be lifted to a higher level. he best way to be inspired is to spend some time with people who know how to lift you to a higher level. A few years ago I spent a couple of days in a room with a dozen people and three "inspiring" folks: Joel Osteen, Andy Stanley and John Maxwell. As I flew back home to "reality" I was astonished at just how high my level of inspiration had been lifted!
I think we all need to find places of inspiration. When our spirits are up so too goes our energy and productivity. Finding those places can be a challenge. So let me offer a few ideas:
1-turn on your favorite music and take a few moments to sit and listen
with your eyes closed. Music soothes the savage beast:)
2-write down something that you would like to see in you:a
characteristic or emotion. Sometimes you have to see it to be it.
3-find some folks that do what you want to do and have coffee or
lunch. Being in the presence of folks that have gone farther …

Thak You Notes

My mom taught me all about thank you notes and the proper way to show appreciation. I learned how to write them each and every time that something nice happened to me.
This past weekend at The Landing I had a chance to write my own notes as part of our months them on Thankfulness...
Here's a peak...Thank You Notes Skit

A Divine Appointment

There was a blind man that heard Jesus was coming to town. Jesus had a reputation for making things work that didn't work.  Legs, arms and even eyes! This man could not see but he could speak, in fact he could yell. And that's just what he did! When Jesus was coming by he yelled "Jesus, have mercy on me!"
His voice was heard and could not be ignored. His voice stopped Jesus. Jesus had him brought closer. When the blind man was standing before him, Jesus didn't touch him, he didn't pray and he did not anoint him with oil. He simply asked him a question. What do you want me to do for you?
This was a landmark moment! A divine appointment. What do YOU want? What if he would have said "I want to win the lottery and I need some winning numbers?" Or "I'd like to have a nice home in the burbs."
Bartimaeus could have focused on things but he didn't. And don't be fooled: Jesus knew what he wanted. When Bartimaeus said it, faith …

The Big "IF"

We have all heard about it. Many have faced it. Millions continue to try and figure it out. Of course I am talking about the "if" in lIFe. What IF I lose my job? What IF I face divorce? What IF my children make the wrong choices?
How to handle the "if". Can I just say to you that we don't have any control over what other people do or what happens to us. We do have control over our choices and according to the Bible there is one IF that when understood brings you to a place that is better than you ever imagined.
It's in Deuteronomy 28 and it says...
1“IF you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.
2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God:
3 Your towns and your fields
will be blessed.
4 Your children and your crops
will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks
will be blessed.
5 Your fruit baskets a…

Gone Are the Days

My how times have changed. I was reading some articles the other day and then went to my daily news feed and upon looking at the headlines, it was clear that the days of old are gone. There used to be such a respect for the elderly and for those that have lived through things that many of us will never see. Today rather than being applauded in their twilight years, many are forgotten. Today we keep trying to separate our faith from our governing leaders. I actually heard several candidates say "let's keep religion out of politics". Are you kidding me? And then there is the infamous 72 day marriage...what ever happened to "till death do us part"? We need more adult language like "commitment" and "integrity"!
I love to sit with those that are older(and wiser) than I and listen to them talk about how things used to be. It was simpler. There was less lobbying for status and jockeying for position. People loved the land and they loved each other.…

Enough Already!

It is officially the shopping season of the holidays! At least that is what everyone is advertising...layaway...pre-ordering discounts...the list goes on and on. Coupons coming in the mail, stores with Christmas items already on the shelves and we just closed the swimming pool!! I usually don't think too much about this but the other day as I was perusing the gadget site I look at on my Ipad, I was once again hooked: this time by the clever use of dessert names that Android is using for their operating systems. Honeycomb, the Gingerbread and now Ice Cream Sandwich...OK! Enough already! I realize that STRESSED is really just "desserts" spelled backwards but I refuse to get caught up in this sugar-laced layaway ploy to rob me of financial virtue! Today I begin my endeavor to not allow the holidays to be about stuff. It's about relationships with others...goodwill towards others and peace on earth. You can't spell Christmas without CHRIST. Let's keep the main thin…


I think its funny at times to watch my kids do the things that they do. Some things surprise me until I really look closely and I see much of myself in them! They really do imitate ME! You would think that would make me happy but honestly there are some things that I have done that I pray they never imitate! It's hard to discipline a child when they are doing something that reminds you of YOU!
As believers our goal is to imitate Christ. The apostle Paul always appreciated seeing people that he ministered to do the things that Jesus did. In fact in 1 Thessalonians he says, "you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."
You may be going through a touch patch right now. There may be some pain, some grief, even some guilt. There is JOY available through the Holy Spirit if you hold on and reach out to the Lord. Sever suffering will often produce incredible blessing. Just keep …