Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 156-160 of 283
June 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

Why are you holding on to the old you?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

You never know what you will come across when you read the “In Other News” section found near the back pages of most newspapers. This is the place where tidbits of strange happenings make their home. They often tell of random events that don’t seem to fit anywhere else, but in place labeled ‘other.’ If you ever find yourself in a bad mood, I’d suggest picking up your daily paper and reading this section. You are always guaranteed to find one story that makes you at the very least chuckle or, at the very most, question what is wrong with humanity.


One of my all time favorite “In Other News” stories is the one about the fiasco that took place a few years back during Halloween in White Plains, NY. A guy named Oscar was taking his daughter trick-or-treating in a local neighborhood. Both dad and daughter were dressed up in costumes going door to door. You might be wondering what is noteworthy about a little girl who dresses up like a princess or Disney character getting candy. We haven’t got to what Oscar was wearing; his old orange prisoner’s jumpsuit.


Just by chance, or because God has a great sense of humor, a county correction officer was out trick-or-treating with her child and spotted the familiar jumpsuit. Fearing he was an escape convict, it sent the local jail into lockdown until they could establish no inmates were missing. Meanwhile, cops found Oscar and confiscated the genuine jumpsuit. Oscar was arrested and charged with petty larceny and possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors. You see prisoners are not permitted to take their jumpsuits home when they are released.


The 6th chapter in Romans speaks in great detail about how we were once slaves or prisoners to sin, but since we have accepted what Christ did on the cross, we have been set free. The chains have been taken off and we are able to live life freely. The door to our jail cell has been opened, we’ve been released and all we need to do is hand in our prisoner’s jumpsuit on the way out. We have been set free.  Very few words in the English language evoke more emotion than the word freedom. Something inside us feels liberated and joyful whenever it is spoken or experienced firsthand. We picture chains being broken and the weight of the world taken off our shoulders. It is only natural for us to yearn to be free.


Yet, how many of us still have the orange jumpsuit tucked away somewhere deep in our closet or take it out and wear it from time to time? We don’t know what it is, but there is something keeping us from getting rid of it. We are so accustomed to how the prisoner’s jumpsuit feels that we struggle to part with it. The longer we keep this jumpsuit in our possession the greater the pull we will feel to go back to our old lifestyle. In essence, we are helping put back on the very chains that Christ went to the cross to break for good. The reason we find ourselves dealing with the same old struggles time and time again is because we are suffering from a case of mistaken identity.


This piece of clothing symbolizes our old condition, not our new identity in Christ. Our sin nature might always be a part of us, but we are no longer obligated to sin. Our freedom is found in God’s truth. Rather than living under the constant pressure of trying to reach an unattainable standard (the law), we are instead covered by God’s grace, which looks so much better than an old tattered orange jumpsuit. Why do you keep the orange prisoner’s jumpsuit that symbolizes your old identity still around? What security do you think it provides you? What makes you doubt that you can ever let it go?


This is my Prayer: Father God, today I want to walk in Your freedom. Lord help me see myself the way You see me.  Jesus teach me to trust that the old is gone and the new has come. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are there some warning signs alerting you that you are at or over your Red Line?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I drive a 99 Nissan Sentra so I don’t much pay attention to the tachometer. That gauge is pretty much irrelevant. When I turn on the ignition, I’m more concerned my car starts than the RPM it is producing.  70 is about as fast as it goes and that’s when it is going downhill. Anything over that speed it begins to rattle and letting me know not to push my luck. If I get anywhere close to the Red Line, there is a good chance the car might combust. Over the years, I’ve learned the limits of the Sentra, it gets great gas mileage and it’s a great “in town” car. 


The tachometer on a worn out Nissan Sentra might be irrelevant, but the gauges that exist in our heart, mind, and soul should be of utter importance. There is a Red Line that exists for each one of us. Unfortunately, we tend to consider our tachometers irrelevant also.  Therefore we have nothing to govern us, and we push our lives to the limit. We are driven, but don’t know where we are headed.


Perfection pulls us while fear pushes us. Deep down inside we also have this fear we are going to miss out. We are driven by our fears more than our pursuits. We’ve become rotten with perfection. We have this mindset that “If I can just get this, or if I can just achieve that then my life will be perfect….I’ll finally experience this FULL life.” We are chasing perfection with this destination thinking and it is driving us insane. We push and push and push hoping that once we achieve what we are chasing, then we can slow down, enjoy and be satisfied. But, perfection and satisfaction never come. The full life is nowhere to be found.


When is enough, enough? Where is your Red Line? What is God calling you to do? These are questions that often remain unanswered. Why? Because we never stop long enough to ask the questions in the first place. Knowing ourselves requires us to know our own Red Line. Without knowing ourselves, we will try to drive in a million different directions at lightning speed.  We just remain in park racing our engines. Our RPM’s rev, but our lives remain still and we are unmoved.  It’s hard to walk with God when we are running so fast after everything else.


We are chasing perfection as if it was a destination. But, when we look at how the Bible speaks of perfection, we get a completely different picture. Perfection is more about satisfaction than it is excellence. We need to develop a deep sense of satisfaction that centers on the process of our growth. God is more concerned about what we are becoming than what we are doing, but what we do is very important.  When we know ourselves, we never have to prove ourselves to anybody else. God doesn’t want us to be someone else, He desires for us to exactly who he made each of us to be. He has placed a call on each of our lives.


Knowing that calling requires the eyes of our hearts to be opened. Our call is simply what God has asked us to do and what He’s entrusted to our care.  We must know God in order to know ourselves. God will never do something with us without doing something in us first.  We can’t bypass the process.  What if we took the time to get to know ourselves: learning our strengths, weakness and pace? In order to be yourself, you must know yourself.  Are there some warning signs alerting you that you are at or over your Red Line?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to pause long enough to reflect on the pace of my life. Lord expose the reasons why I push so hard. Jesus I desire for my motives to be pure and honor You. Help me to learning my strengths, weakness, and the pace You have set for my life.  I desire for my life serve as an offering to You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you modeling forgiveness in your relationships?

How are you modeling forgiveness in your relationships? In what relationships do you need to seek forgiveness? Sometimes we are the offended and other times we are the offender. This comes with the messiness of humanity. At times, we all fail to reflect Christ’s heart in our relationships, especially with our children. And our unwillingness to ask for forgiveness can create a wedge in this important relationship.  While extending forgiveness to someone who wronged us is extremely challenging, being in the position to have to ask your own children for forgiveness can be just as humbling. Trust me I know.


A costly decision waits with our pride hanging in the balance. Pride is what stops us from admitting we were wrong and tempts us to justify our actions.  Pride forces us to stand tall, while asking for forgiveness brings us to our knees in humility. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m an expert at rationalizing my behavior. I can justify my actions with the best of them. Can anyone blame me for losing my temper with my kids? After all, they disrespected me, spoke back, weren’t paying attention, failed to listen or any of the other thousand excuses I can rattle off if you have the time to listen.


Due to the difficulty of being a parent, it’s very easy to pinpoint all the ways we think our children have wronged us. They didn’t put their shoes away, they left marker stains on the furniture, they broke something, or they disregarded our advice on choices they needed to make. On a daily basis, we are reminded that our children aren’t perfect. But, here’s the thing, neither are we as parents. No one is spotless. 

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10


So, why is our willingness to ask for forgiveness such a necessary tool for us as parents? By owning up to our own sin, mistakes and failures, we are modeling forgiveness to our children. And because we model it, our children will be more likely to exhibit these qualities when they get older.  The next generation needs to know that forgiveness is the only thing strong enough to restore a relationship. The act of forgiveness has the power to heal any wound.  Teaching about forgiveness is one thing. Being able to serve as a living example of it is quite another. Our children learn about forgiveness first from us.


This is my Prayer:  Father God open my eyes to the places where I’ve caused others pain.  Lord help me to see those moments when I didn’t reflect Your heart in my relationships. But, don’t allow me to stay there.  Jesus give me the courage to lay my pride down and ask forgiveness to those I’ve offended and hurt, and let Your grace help restore these relationships. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does counting your days lead to a heart of wisdom?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

How does counting your days lead to a heart of wisdom? As I grow older, time seems to speed up, rather than slow down. There are moments when I have this out of body type experience where I can see life speeding by me in a blur. All my efforts to decelerate its progress or hit pause to simply catch my breath are to no avail.  Life continues to churn with little regard to my protests.  Today, I was going over camp forms for the different camps we have going on at our church, I came across my youngest daughters form for pre teen camp and it hit me is she really a pre teen.  I’m not going to lie; it’s hard for me to come to grips with this reality.


In just a couple of years, my youngest daughter will become a teenager, a TEENAGER!  I don’t know if my heart is ready for this change, but it’s coming nonetheless.  I feel life Fred Sanford, “This is the big one!”  I was just holding her in my arms as a baby yesterday. Time is precious, but it is also very fleeting. We all know this, whether we are a parent or not. Our priorities lose out to the squeaky wheel. Life has the uncanny ability to get in the way of what we know deep down is important. Dreams become un-acted upon hopes that get pushed to the back of our mind. Procrastination becomes our most utilized spiritual gift. Action gets scheduled for that elusive spot on our calendar labeled “someday.” Potential remains untapped.


If we do act, we start off strong, but rarely finish. Rather than making our days count, many of us are focused on counting down the days to the weekend or our next vacation. Without intention on our part, time will always win out over the spiritual growth we wish to see in our lives. When we come to grips with time being in short supply, we tend to do more with the time we’ve been given right now.  There are no spiritual shortcuts. Instant faith is a myth. Our faith is shaped and molded over time. The transformation that lasts is built in every moment we seize. The way we present God a heart of wisdom at the end of our life is by not taking time for granted.  What if we decided to leave a lasting impact and legacy, one week, one day, one moment at a time?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I want to make my days count. Lord help me to not squander the time I’ve been given. Rather than put things off for another day, give me the courage to act. Jesus remind me that time is precious and to not take it for granted. Teach me use the moments I’m given today to help those around me know they are loved by You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

June 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

What culture are you creating to help the next generation know God?

A few years back I went to Six Flags, which is a place that most would consider a happy fun place to be. Happiness changes very quickly into fear when you are a child who gets separated from their parents. Getting lost is absolutely terrifying for a child. They feel paralyzed with no clue where to go or which direction to head. The tears begin to flow and panic begins to set in. While waiting in line for one of the rides I noticed a little boy all alone with that look of fear I just described. I faced the decision whether to ignore the situation, move forward in the line or jump into action and help the little boy find his parents.


It doesn’t seem like I had much of a choice does it? If a child is lost and afraid, you are not going to sit by and remain a spectator. You will do everything in your power to make sure they are safe, protected, and ultimately find their way home.  Unfortunately the church, has for far too long, sat idly by and watched as families crumble, marriages fall apart, and the next generation knows even less about the faithfulness of God. While those younger than us falter, we remain on the sidelines and refuse to engage the situation.


It’s far too easy to blame media, entertainment, and the government for the current state of our generation. This gives us an easy out to excuse our behavior as the church and the role we’ve played in the problem. The culture of the church must change with the entire community of believers leveraging what they have for the next generation.  What messages do our actions and words speak about the importance, or the lack thereof, of God to the next generation? What legacy are we leaving behind for them? Will they know of the greatness of God as well as His amazing grace? Will their lives be impacted by it or will their lack of guidance lead them to walk through life relying solely on their own wisdom?


What blueprint are we sketching out for our families and spouses? What foundations are we building now for what lies in the future? We are charged with impressing the commands of God upon the next generation and leaving them the tools and culture necessary to reveal God’s image in their generation. This should have massive implications on us the church, as well as our families.  

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Deuteronomy 6:1-2


It is so important that we understand legacy as an issue of stewardship, as something we are given. It is not ours to generate, but rather to steward in the direction of God’s promise. If your actions and words set the tone and culture for your family, what type of culture are you establishing? For those without children, what culture are you creating to help the next generation know God?


This is my Prayer: Father God, let me leave a legacy that brings You glory. Lord teach me to look for opportunities to impact others, especially those of the next generations You have brought into my life. Jesus help me to steward the influence I’ve been given to point others towards Your transformational love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 156-160 of 283