Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflection and Preparation-Prov.19.21

The habit or practice of reflection has increased and become very important to me over time. I have noticed people are running so fast and not taking the time to sit, think, review, remember and readjust their lifestyles and schedules. With some regular times of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reflection, it can lead to peace, stability and very purposeful living.
The following questions are to get us thinking about this past year and prepare us for “The Best Year Ever.” How am I doing in the major areas of my LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WORK and CHURCH?
A. Spirit
1) Do I love God, my Father with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
2) Am I growing in my intimate relationship with Jesus Christ?
3) Am I living and walking by the Holy Spirit?
4) How is my time in the Scriptures? Am I delighting in and meditating on God’s Word day and night?
5) Do I find myself praying more or less about all things?
6) What 3 spiritual practices generated the greatest benefit?

B. Soul (Mind, Will and Emotions)
1) What am I doing to daily renew my mind?
2) Are my thoughts pure, lovely, noble, truthful, and full of praise?
3) What are the best three books I read last year?
4) What kind of choices did I make last year?
5) Did I choose the way of life versus death? Did I choose the way of the Spirit versus the way of the flesh? Did I choose to walk by faith versus walk by sight?
6) Was I full of love, joy, peace, patience and self-control?
7) Was there any anger, guilt, greed or jealousy that needs to be resolved?

C. Body (Did I live in B.A.L.A.N.C.E?)
1) BREATHING - Am I getting enough oxygen in my blood?
2) AWARENESS - Am I aware of what is going on in my body?
3) LIQUIDS - Am I drinking enough water?
4) ANTIOXIDANTS - Am I taking the right of Multi, C and E?
5) NUTRITION – Am I eating 3-5 small meals of protein, carbs and good fats?
6) CONDITIONING - Am I exercising 3-5 times a week?
7) EFFECTIVE REST - Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep?
8) What three ways will I take better care of myself this next year?

A. Intimacy
1) Does my wife know she is the #1 priority relationship on the planet?
2) Am I loving my wife as Christ loves the church?
3) Are we praying together on a regular basis?
4) Are we regularly sharing what we are learning from our own relationship with Jesus Christ?
5) Am I washing and cleansing her with the Word of God?
6) Am I carefully listening to her thoughts, feelings and desires?
7) Are we enjoying many sexual and non-sexual touches?
8) Are we enjoying romance and physical intimacy on a regular basis?
9) Did we have an awesome anniversary celebration?
10) Have we enjoyed quarterly getaways?
11) Did we have our monthly MSM, Marriage Staff Meetings?
12) How was our “Weekly Focus” time?
13) Did I provide her the structure or spontaneity she needs and desires?
14) Did I give her the full and focused attention she deserves?
15) On a scale of 1-10, how would my wife rate our marriage?
16) What needs to be done to get it to a 10?

B. Finances
1) Did we honor the Lord with the first fruit of all our increase?
2) Did we give generously and cheerfully?
3) Did we save appropriately?
4) Did we invest for the future proportionately?
5) Did we spend moderately?
6) What financial adjustments must we make for this next year?

A. Father
1) How am I doing as a Dad?
2) Am I walking humbly before my children?
3) Am I showing them unconditional love
4) What did I teach them this past year? What do they need to know?
5) Am I a model to follow? Can I say, “Follow me as I follow Christ?”
6) Am I spending the quality and quantity of time my children need?
7) Am I praying for them on a daily basis?
8) What “Etched Memories” did I create this past year?
9) What home activities tend to generate the greatest pay back?

B. Son
1) How am I doing as a son?
2) How did I honor my Father and Mother this past year?

C. Brother
1) How am I doing as a brother?
2) How did I love and care for my brothers and sisters?

A. Did I see my work as a gift from God?
B. Did I do my work as unto the Lord?
C. Am I living as a man under authority showing respect, gratefulness, a servant and quiet spirit?
D. Am I showing excellence and diligence in my work?
E. Am I taking the low place and trusting God for His invitations, appointments and exaltation in His time?
F. Am I “choosing to cheat”?
G. What three work relationships need more time?

A. Am I living in community with other believers?
B. Am I investing, influencing and inviting other outsiders?
C. Where did I strategically serve in my local church?
Some additional questions:
6. In reviewing last year, what areas reveal the most progress? The least progress?
➢ Most –
➢ Least -
7. What is the wildest, most unconventional thing I could do this next year to live with more passion? What out of the box thinking could we do?
8. Who will hold me accountable to be my best self this next?
9. The most significant way I will influence others is…
10. List 3-5 of your best achievements this past year
11. Strengths and Successes - Identify what has worked well this past year
12. Struggles and Stresses - What has not been working so well?
13. Habits - What are the most purposeful daily habits you could develop/upgrade over the next 12 months? Develop 1 habit at a time, not 2, not 5.

14. Clutter - Identify 3 messes or clutter projects you’d like to clean up in the next 12 months? Clutter can be anything that is taking up room in my mind…for example we have 1000 AU’s (Attention Units) and anything from a sick relative, to way ward child, to troublesome marriage, to bitterness can all take up mental and emotional capacity. We must un clutter our minds so that we can reach full potential.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"I Thought" by Phil Engelman

I have known Phil and Sue for 35+years since college. They are some of the finest people on the planet and would be considered "Friends for Life".
He wrote...
I thought I was obeying you, but You’re showing me my obedience is only selective.
I thought I was serving in dependence on You, but You’re showing me I’ve been trusting in my own powers of persuasion.
I thought I was humble, but You’re showing me I’ve been proud in my own abilities.
I thought I cared about lost souls but You’re showing me I’ve really been seeking the approval of man.
I thought I cared for hurting people, but You’re showing me I’ve really been wanting their love in return for my loving them.
I thought I was accepting of all, but You’re showing me my prejudices.
I thought I cared about the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom, but You’re showing me I’ve really been more concerned with building my own kingdom and having what I thought was ministry success.
I thought I had forgiven my offenders, but You’re showing me I have only begun the process.
I thought I was suffering for Your sake, but You’re showing me I really still love my own comfort.
I thought I was following Your lead, but You’re showing me I’ve really been running from my problems instead of seeking the Truth, no matter how painful.
I thought I was teachable, but You’re showing me places where I avoid wise counsel.
I thought I was worshipping You, but You’re showing me my heart is full of idols.
I thought I was trusting You with my life, but You’re showing me my heart is full of fear - fear of man, fear of failure, fear of rejection which only expose where my idols really lie.
I thought I had taken up Your cross, and died to self, but You’re showing me I am still very much alive.
I thought I loved You, but in repentance You’re showing me I have really been loving Myself.
Repentance is sweet pain. It leaves me not with despair but with hope that real change is taking place in my heart.
May God grant all of us a spirit of repentance.
I love this guy and his sweetheart.

A Good Name - Prov.22.1

Proverbs 22:1 says A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Identify 3 qualities you’d like to see associated with your name as well as how you’d define each quality.
I wrote the following for me.
1. Loving – That I fully received the love of God into my life and loved Him and people in return
- Matthew 22:37-39 - Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

2. Humble – Taking the low place before God and others
- Luke 14:7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

3. Servant – That I was more interested in the needs of others than myself.
- Mark 10:43-44 - Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What does "follow" look like?-Matt.9.9

Matt. 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

This is what we had for “FOLLOW ME”. This is what we think it looks like to follow Christ today.

  1. Some one has to say, yes. I want to follow Christ. A surrender of the will every day.
  2. We must stay connected to the Word and let God communicate with us on a daily basis from the Scriptures
  3. We should be fully present where we are...doing all things heartily unto the Lord today where we are
  4. Pay attention to the authority over us. He will lead, protect and provide through those in authority over us.
  5. Watch the circumstances around you. God is working in and through our present circumstances.
  6. Live in the Spirit. Walk in the Spirit and we will be led by Christ
  7. Seek wise counsel. There is safety.
  8. Pray without ceasing. Listen. Walk by faith and not by sight and Wait and Follow.

9 Words Women Use

         1.  Fine: This  is the word women use to end an
          argument when they are right and you need to
          shut up.
          2.  Five  Minutes: If she is getting dressed,
          this means a half an hour.  Five minutes  is
         only five minutes if you have just  been given
         five more minutes to watch  the game before
         helping around the  house.
          3.  Nothing: This  is the calm before the
         storm. This  means something, and you should be
         on  your toes. Arguments that begin with
          nothing usually end in fine.
         4. Go  Ahead: This is a dare, not  permission.
         Don't Do It!
         5.   Loud Sigh:  This is actually a word, but is
         a  non-verbal statement often misunderstood by
          men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an
          idiot and wonders why she is wasting her  time
         standing here and arguing with  you about
         nothing. (Refer back to #3  for the meaning of
          6. That's Okay:  This is one of the most
         dangerous  statements a women can make to a
         man.  That's okay means she wants to think long
          and hard before deciding how and when you will
          pay for your mistake.
         7. Thanks: A  woman is thanking you, do not
          question, or Faint. Just say you're welcome.
         8.  Whatever: Is a women's way of saying ,You'll  get yours .
          9. Don't  worry,    I got it:  Another
         dangerous statement, meaning  this is something
         that a woman has  told a man to do several
         times, but  is now doing it herself. This will
          later result in a man asking  "What's wrong?"
          For the woman's response refer to #3.

Love From God. For God and Others

Several weeks ago I came across Eph.1.17 and started praying it on a daily/regular basis.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better. Eph. 1:17
I found myself repeatedly asking God for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I could know God, my Father, Jesus, my Savior and the Holy Spirit better. I believe as a result of that prayer that God has been revealing more to me about His BEAUTY and His LOVE.
I was thinking about God, Christ and Christianity and wondered of a one word summary. What is one word that would summarize Him and it?
The word that came to my mind is LOVE. Period. So many words but this one word captures it all. LOVE…from God, for God and for others.
Several verses and thoughts came to mind.
• God so loved the world.
• Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.
• We love Him because He first loved us.
• We were made to receive and give love.
• Love the Lord my God with all my heart…
Sooooo many other verses to support this one word idea.
Deut. 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Matt. 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matt. 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matt. 22:39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:17 This is my command: Love each other.
Rom. 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom. 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Rom. 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I thought about the love of God poured out in our hearts, I thought about all the relationships in my life that I want to love with God’s love. Naturally I thought in terms of my LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WORK and CHURCH.

When I think of the lives we touch over the course of a day, week, month, year and lifetime. God wants His love poured out in us and allow His love to touch the world through us. I wonder if this is a part of what Jesus meant when He said in John 14.12, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” It is an incredible thing to be loved by God, to love Him in return and to allow His love to touch all of the people and relationships in our lives. 2Cor. 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Principle of Suffering-James 1

“Welcoming the chastening of the Lord and the sorrows and hurts of life as necessary for my maturity and future leadership.”
On August 1, 1993, 14 years ago, I experienced one of the hardest nights of my life…what some would call, “the dark night of my soul”.  I went to an Elder meeting where I thought they were going to ask me questions from my side of a story, only to discover that another staff guy, who was also an elder, was getting ready to publicly charge me of several things.
Let me back up just a minute…
-       In September 1992 I moved from being a “Senior Pastor” in FL to an Associate Pastor in Reston, VA
-       When I came into the new setting, I came in fast and furious and made another associate pastor very uncomfortable with me. He was also an elder…not a good organizational structure
-       In his discomfort with me, he started to make a case against me…accusing me to the other Elders that I was a liar, thief, rebellious and not a man of integrity or a man under authority.
-       The Chairman of the Elders, who was also a good friend of mine, called me and asked; do you know that this guy is making serious charges against you? I said, I had no idea because no one has said anything to me
-       I said why don’t you call a meeting, let him make his charges…let me respond…and you Elders make the call
-       He agreed but the night before the meeting, he called and said the other guy was not comfortable with us being at the same meeting
-       So I said, no problem…let him make his charges…then I will come to another meeting and answer…then you make the call…he agreed.
-       So on 8.1.1993, I thought I was going into a meeting to answer questions…only to hear this opening statement…”Now John, we just want you to be open to what we want to SAY.”
-       In that moment, if ever “I heard” God speak…I heard…DON’T DEFEND YOURSELF”
-       So with that I pulled out my pen and journal and said…what would you like to say?
-       This guy went down his list of charges against me in front of all the Elders and totally and completely dragged my reputation through the mud.
-       It was horrible. I was so brokenhearted, I could barely breathe.
The next day in great pain, I went out on our deck and started thinking and writing, “what in the hell just happened?” I cried out to God for help and wisdom and counsel in the midst of my pain and confusion…I came across this statement…
Welcoming the chastening of the Lord
And the sorrows and hurts of life
As necessary for my maturity
And preparation for future leadership
It was in that very dark and painful season that I learned the things about suffering that I want to share with you today.
Over the course of our lives and ministry we will suffer…and it will come from several places…different people and circumstances.
Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it.  We all want to get through it and we want to get it behind us.
I. Temptations from Me – Reap What You Sow (Galatians 6)…plus chastening
II. Trials from Others – Simply living in a fallen world…a victim (1 Peter 2)
III. Tests from God – Maturing and preparing us (Hebrews 11:17)
For some strange reason, having a perspective from where it is coming is helpful.  It brought some clarity and there are 3 different responses
1.    There is suffering that comes from me.
-      Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life  
-      My own temptations…giving in to them and then the consequences – a choice that has produced awful results and outcomes:
-      We reap what we sow…and part of that reaping may be the chastening of the Lord
2.    There is suffering that comes from others –
-      1 Peter 2:19  “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.”
-      There is unjust suffering – so much unjust suffering, so much injustice-
-      A most classic example is Joseph…thrown in pit, sold in slavery, falsely accused and thrown in prison…all preparatory…
-      God permits what He could have prevented
-      He has permitted the circumstance to mature and prepare
-      It is doubtful you will minister to “broken hearted people” unless your heart has been broken.
3.    There is suffering that comes from God.
-      Hebrews 11:17 – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,
-      Some of the suffering you are experiencing is simply a test…a test from God to prepare you for leadership
Now What? How do I respond?
  1. Temptations from me: Choose life in the Spirit
-      Learn and grow in walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh
-      We have all we need for life and godliness…The Word of God, The Spirit of God, The People of God
  1. Trials from Others: Choose to forgive
-      Look past the offender…see God’s permission on this
-      God permitted what He could have prevented
-      Choose to forgive – “I forgive you”
  1. Tests from God: Choose to trust
-      Thank Him
-      Receive it vs resist it from God
-      He is – Maturing us
            Preparing us for future leadership
Are you suffering? From where is it coming? You? Others? God?
1.    You? - Choose to live in the Spirit
2.    Others? - Choose to forgive
3.    God? - Choose to thank God and trust Him for your maturity and preparation for future leadership.
So – for the next year I had to walk by this guy’s office EVERY DAY – thinking, feeling “I hate you”. The elders came back and asked my forgiveness for the way the conflict was handled. The other guy and I ended up asking and granting forgiveness to one another.
One year later…
-      Several young couples in our church wanted us to lead a marriage conference
-      We found out that they also invited this other guy and his wife to share too
-      The very first talk they asked me to give was…How to deal with conflict and this guy and his wife were sitting on the front row with Debbie.
-      I told the couples…you are seeing a modern day miracle…
Never in my wildest imaginations did I think I would go from that very dark night of my soul on August 1, 1993 to this incredible place called North Point Ministries. I have NO DOUBT that all of that was for my maturity and preparation for leadership.
What is the principle of suffering? Welcoming the chastening of the Lord and the sorrows and hurts of life as necessary for my maturity and preparation for future leadership.
Keep choosing to live in the Spirit
Keep choosing to forgive.
Keep choosing to trust.

Strengthened by Grace-Heb.13.9

Heb. 13:9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.
This is such a good phrase…It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Our hearts indeed need to be strengthened every day. Our hearts can be strong or weak.
There are several factors that can strengthen my heart
1. We are strengthened by the Lord Himself… Is. 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2. We are strengthened by the Word… Psa. 119:28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
3. We can be strengthened by angels… Luke 22:43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
4. We are strengthened by the Holy Spirit… Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord… Eph. 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
5. We are strengthened by other’s prayers… Col.1.10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
6. We are strengthened by grace… 2 Tim. 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
7. We are strengthened by other people… Deut. 3:28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”…1Th. 3:2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,
I am so grateful to God for all the things he does to strengthen my heart every day on the earth. This life is so full of challenging things that can cause my heart to grow weak and weary. How good to be strengthened by the Lord and His Grace.
Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might today.

A Wife of Noble Character-Prov.31.10

Prov. 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
Prov. 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Prov. 31:29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
I love these verses and truths...a wife of noble character.
Noble...having excellent or superior qualities... having or showing high personal qualities or high moral principles morals or ideals.
This is such a beautiful thing in a wife. What makes her this way?
She is her husband’s crown. What a beautiful image. This is so true. A wife of noble character just shine’s like a royal crown on her husband’s head.
But unfortunately a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. A dis-grace-ful...a no-grace-full...wife has a physical effect on her husband.
So...gentlemen...I would suggest that we love, honor, cherish, and value our wives so that they can grow and flourish and be a beautiful crown on our heads...otherwise we will taking a lot of calcium on our own.

Fifty (50)-Num.8.24

Num. 8:24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting,  25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”
This verse and idea intrigues me. Makes me wonder about my work at 53?

The Awful Grace of God

And even in our sleep,
pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despair,
against our will, comes wisdom to us
by the awful grace of God.

What an incredible quote...on the tombstone of Robert Kennedy

An Unloved Married Woman-Prov.30.21-23

I was reminded today that the earth trembles at an unloved woman who is married. WOW!
Prov.30.21 “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up:  22 a servant who becomes king, a fool who is full of food,  23 an unloved woman who is married...
Gents, let’s make sure we are loving our wives as Christ loved the church, so we don’t create a Tsunami.

Hate. Carry. Follow. Give Up-Luke 14.25

Today I read... Luke 14:25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.  27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my discipl

In coming to Jesus, I must HATE. CARRY. FOLLOW. GIVE UP...strong words...but I also read...Phil. 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Today, I will gladly hate, carry, follow and give up so that I may gain Christ. You?

Well Pleased-Luke 3.21

I just read... Luke 3:21... And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

I thought...

  1. I have sons and daughters whom I love dearly
  2. I have sons and daughters with whom I am well pleased.
  3. O that the next generation of sons and daughters would hear the words of Dads that say, I love you and I am well pleased with you. What a beautiful thing that would be
  4. I want to spend the rest of my days on earth helping men be those kind of Dads.

A well pleased Dad.

Godly Generations-Ps.78.1

I have been thinking about “godly generations” for many years now. I believe this was first instilled in me through my Dad. I saw how my Dad loved his children and grandchildren. He took time and loved and invested in them. I believe I put “…to raise a godly generation in my children and grandchildren” in my personal mission statement because of him.

So now…we got the news that David and Danae are pregnant. I have been thinking and praying for this little one every day. Some of my thoughts and prayers are…

Psalm 139:13-18 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. [14] I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. [15] My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, [16] your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.[17] How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! [18] Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, [5] "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Psalm 127:1-5 - Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. [2] It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. [3] Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. [4] As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. [5] Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Psalm 128:1-4 - Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. [2] You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. [3] Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. [4] Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.

I love these thoughts and Scriptures. These are my prayers for the next generation…to be perfectly formed according to the will and plan of the Lord. To separate and call from the womb…to begin to prepare them for their life work, purpose and calling. I love praying for this every day until birth and through out.

Thank you Father, for the blessing of children and grandchildren. Please cause my family to be very fruitful and replenish the earth. I am indeed a blessed man.

A Prayer from the Scriptures-2 Cor.1.1

A prayer offered from the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, for the men of God
Over the last several years I have kept 3x5 index cards of Scriptures from my morning quiet times. Today was the first time I used those cards from the last 30 days to lead me in prayers for a number of upcoming retreats in my life. Most of these prayers come from 2 Corinthians...

1.1-2 – Lord, you have called me and made me a man and a minister. I want to minister to your church in Illinois with grace, peace and power.

1.3-4 – I want you to bring compassion and comfort to those who are troubled. Please comfort them through me.

1.8-9 – God, I want to rely only on you. Not my strength or personality but on you alone.

1.11 – Lord, grant me favor with these men. Thanks for the prayers of my wife, my mother and a few friends that actually remember.

Pro.18.21 – Lord, words have the power to give life. Lord, speak words of life through me in these sessions.

1.21-22 – Lord, help me to stand. You have anointed me, you own me, you have given me your spirit…please minister through me

2.10-11 – Lord, I resist Satan by faith in your Name. He has a scheme to accuse, confuse and divide. I pray against him.

2.14 – Thank you for leading me in triumph through Christ. Please spread the fragrance and aroma of Christ in and through me.

3.5-6 – Lord, you have made me competent for this task today and tomorrow. I believe you. I receive your competence in me. You have made me a minister of a new covenant…a new covenant of the Spirit and life…call men to new life in Christ.

3.17-18 – Lord, today I want to reflect your glory. You have transformed me. May these men see and experience an ever increasing glory.

4.7-8 – Please show your all-surpassing power in and through me

4.10 – Lord, I want your life revealed in me today, tomorrow and always.

4.16-18 – Thank you for renewing me day by day and please help these men to see what is UNSEEN…to fix their eyes on Jesus, the eternal, the invisible things
Mt.5.44-45 – Lord, help these men who have enemies to open their hearts to let your love in and through them…release any anger, bitterness, pride, guilt or jealousy or shame.

Phil.4.4-7 – Lord, I am not anxious about the weekend but I pray with thanksgiving that your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven…in the hearts of every man. Give them peace. Cause them to pray and petition you as a loving heavenly Father.

5.1-5 – Thank you for your Spirit. Empower me today and this weekend.

5.6-9 – Lord, today I choose to live by faith and not by sight. My goal for this retreat is to please you first and in pleasing you that others may be pleased as well.

5.10 – Father, one day I will stand before you at the judgment seat of Christ. I will give an account of this weekend. Will I receive gold, silver, and precious stone? Will this be an activity of the flesh? I want all I do to come from you, by you, through me for you.

5.11 – Lord, help me live and walk in the fear of the Lord. Please persuade these men through me to grow in their relationship with you. I will plant, I will water but trust you to make all of us grow.

5.14-15 – Lord, you died for me. I want to live for you. Every day. Every hour for the rest of my days on the earth. As I live for you this weekend, please bear much fruit in and through me.

I had this thought…there is a difference of trying to bear fruit, make a difference, and have an impact. When I abide in Christ…FRUIT HAPPENS…fruit emerges…a difference is made…an impact occurs from being, abiding, remaining in Christ.

5.17 – Lord, help the men see that they are NEW…BRAND NEW…the old has gone…the new has come. Help them walk in newness of life.

5.18 – Lord, you have reconciled us to yourself. You have made us your friends. Help them see that they are reconciled to you and you have given us the ministry of reconciliation.

5.19 – Lord, you are not counting our sins against us. Release these men from counting sins against themselves or others. Help them to enjoy the freedom we have in Christ and your desire for relationship with us. Thank you.

Is.61.1 – Lord, you are on me. You have called me, invited me and anointed me for this weekend. Through me please…
1. Bring good news to poor men
2. Bind up broken hearts
3. Proclaim freedom to captive men
4. release these prisoners from darkness
6.1-2 – Lord, today/now is the time of your favor and your salvation. Will you please show your favor and bring your salvation to men. Save us from ourselves, the world, the flesh and the devil. Save us from mediocre and passive lives.

6.3-13 – Lord, some of these men are in real hard circumstances. Bring your grace, peace, power, comfort, perspective and your hope.

James 5.16 – Lord, help these men confess their sins/their faults to one another that they may be healed.

You said the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective. Lord, you made me righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. I have your righteousness and here I am praying. I am asking, saeeking, knocking. I am giving thanks for what you will do in me and to me and through me.

Please cause this retreat to be powerful, effective, and fruitful…fruit that will remain for all eternity.


All of this is prayed in the great and righteous name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, my Savior, my Leader, my Friend and my Lover.

AMEN and AMEN!!!

"Upgrade" Your Marriage-Rom.1.24

I was reading Romans 1.24… “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”
This verse really caught my attention. I often think in contrasts. I thought if the sinful desires of the heart lead to sexual impurity to the degrading of the bodies, then holy desires can lead to sexual purity which leads to the upgrading of our bodies and the upgrading of our marriages.
As I looked up the word “degrading”…it means
Degrading vs. Upgrading
Humiliating vs. Honoring
Demeaning vs. Meaningful
Shameful vs. Without shame
Mortifying vs. Life giving
Undignified vs. Dignified
Inglorious vs. Glorious
Wretched/Unhappy/Broken vs. Fulfilled/Happy/Whole Hearted
Self satisfying vs. Other satisfying
Isolation vs. Intimacy

When you think of pornography, while it may have some momentary satisfaction to the flesh, it really leads to the degrading of our bodies. In contrast, when you think of sex within the beauty of a God given, monogamous relationship, it is indeed honoring, meaningful, glorious, fulfilling and very intimate.
May we work really hard in the power of the Holy Spirit to have our holy desires lead to sexual purity to lead us in upgrading our marriages. Enjoy this great gift from a loving and creative God,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Come to Jesus-Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O raise your head for love is passing by.
Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus and live.
Now your burdens lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain.
So sing to Jesus. Sing to Jesus. Sing to Jesus and live.
Like a new born a baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall.
So fall on Jesus. Fall on Jesus. Fall on Jesus and live.
Sometimes the way is lonely
The steps are filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Then cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus and live.
O and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
When you can’t contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus. Dance for Jesus. Dance for Jesus and live.
With your final heart beat
Kiss the world good bye
Then go in peace and laugh on glory’s side
Fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus and live
Fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus and live

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do Not Judge-Matt.7.1

Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matt. 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
This talk by Andy really caught my attention. I was very moved through the whole message.
The way he set up the tension. Judging and being judged. He captured every area of life. Marriage, relationships, parenting, dating, money, drinking, dress, possessions
“Judging me does not change me. It only pushes me away.”
Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
The same way I judge it will come back in my direction.
Judge others in the way I want to be judge. How do I want to be judge? With grace and kindness and patience and love…a lot of slack
Matt. 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
Why care? Why form an opinion? What is it in me that forms an opinion of others and does not look at the plank in my eye?
What is it in me that I need to judge others?
When I see something in you that I judge, I should look in the mirror and my life and see what I need to deal with first.
1. Who do I judge?
2. Of what do I judge them?
c. .
3. What emotion is evoked in me?
a. Anger?
b. Jealousy?
4. What is the plank in my own life?
5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The hypocrisy is judging someone else before or without looking at the stuff in my life.
We lose leverage or influence… Why should I listen to you man, husband, dad, friend, employer if you don’t first look in the mirror?
When tempted to judge, pay attention to the emotion it evokes in me…anger, jealousy, threatened, fear etc.
Our first response ought to be a prayer, “Father, what do I see in them that You see in me? Please help me deal with it.”
1. First take the plank out of your own eye
a. When something about you bugs me, I have an issue. What is it?
b. Deal with my stuff first.
2. Then you will see clearly…
a. You will have self-awareness
b. You will have humility
c. You will have discernment
d. You will have the Lord before you
3. To remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
a. Don’t do something that will push them away
b. The fact that I looked at my plank, opens the door to talk to them about their sawdust.
Why did this talk capture me so much? I believe it is because I tend to judge others. I want to judge righteously and with mercy. Help me grow in this area.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Letter to Bryan on His 30th

Dear Bryan,
I have been thinking about you and this birthday for a long time. Debbie and I have been so excited to plan and have this gathering with so many people who love and respect you.
It has been my supreme joy to know you and watch you grow as a man, husband, father and minister. We have known and seen how God has led you all the way and kept you through all of life’s trials and tribulations. It is a wonderful and amazing thing to see what God has done, is doing and will do in you and through you with Kathryn, your beautiful sons and the ministry God is calling you to.
Bryan, you are closing out the season of your life that others have called the “Preparation Years” or the years of “Inner Life Growth”. I believe you have been very well prepared – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, educationally, socially and in many ways. I believe you have paid attention to “Inner Life Growth”. These have been foundational years that have prepared you for this next season.
Today you enter a new season, a new chapter…what others and I have called the season of “Initiation”. The season of “Ministry Maturing”. Lord willing, this will be a season where you will continue to “initiate” several new ideas and directions. The Lord will lead you in the way you should go. You will mature in your ministry as you continue to exercise your gifts and talents and strengths according to your God given D-E-S-I-G-N. This is an exciting time and season of your lives.
I exhort you with all that is within me to continue to love the Lord our God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. I exhort you to love Kathryn as Christ loves the church, laying down your life for her and demonstrating continually that she is the #1 priority relationship on this planet. She is your helper, completer, life giver, glory and she is indeed your lady of wisdom. Love and protect her well. She is a beautiful gift to you.
I exhort you to raise the next generation of Apinis in your beautiful sons. Be a model to follow. Teach and train them in the Word of God, in the ways of God and teach them to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God.
I exhort you to take the low place and continue serving and trusting God to lead you, direct you and invite you to the places of honor that He intends for your life. He will “ridiculously bless” you more than you can ever imagine.
I love you, Bryan, and thank you for blessing me and many other people the way you do. You are indeed like a 4th son to me. I am blessed to know you.
A very grateful man and friend and boss, ☺

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Resist the Devil-James 4.7

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
I am intrigued by this truth and idea. Resist. What does it mean to resist the devil and how does one do it?
436. aÓnqi÷sthmi anthistemi; from 473 and 2476; to set against, i.e. withstand: —cope with(1), oppose(1), opposed(5), opposing(1), resist(5), resists(2).
As I have thought about and observed the work of the devil I would say the following:
1. We need to believe he is real and not some made up figure or force. He is a very real enemy. Also known as Satan, Lucifer etc…
• 1Chr. 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
• Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
• Is.1412 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
2. We need to know his schemes and devices…i.e. to steal, kill and destroy…to confuse and accuse.
• John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
• Rev. 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
3. We need to know the source of our real struggle…it is not against flesh and blood.
• Eph. 6: 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
4. We must put on the whole armor of God…
• Eph.6.10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
1) TRUTH – the truth will set us free
2) RIGHTEOUSNESS – living a right life
3) READINESS – always ready with the gospel
4) FAITH – we walk by faith and not by sight
5) SALVATION – being saved and belonging to God
6) THE WORD OF GOD – this is the sword of the Spirit
7) PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT – pray with out ceasing
8) BE ALERT – always be watching…
This is the way we RESIST the devil. We do these things and he will flee from us…Thank you Lord for these promises.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Inspire Me by Bill Hybels

The session started off with the story of a boy who was born blind with no leg strength to support him. Discovered he was gifted musically. An amazing story of a father and son. All the audience was super inspired.
What can happen when we are all inspired? The power of inspiration.
4 questions:
1. How much does it actually matter in the life of a worker to be motivated?
Motivated employees
• 87% stay
• Fewer Sick days
• Please motivate and inspire me
2. Who’s job is it to keep me motivated? Mine
When my spirit sags, do not blame anyone.
No body wants to follow a moping leader
We are to live in an “inspired state”
1 Sam.30.6 – David encouraged himself in the Lord…he took responsibility for his encouragement
Ways that Bill has stayed encouraged over the years:
1. Be crystal clear of my calling and mission from God
a. .Pay the price to get still before the Lord to get crystal clear
b. Who am I? When did He call me? To what has He called me?
c. For me…it is my personal mission statement
d. To always do that which pleases my heavenly Father
e. Helping men live life on purpose in balance
2. Leverage my spiritual gifts and strengths:
a. I am an exhorter, pastor, teacher and leader
b. My strengths are context, responsibility, relator, developer and intellection
3. Make sure the players on my team are inspiring people
a. Do all my players inspire me?
b. Do I get a “positive emotional jolt” every time they walk in my office?
4. The books I read
a. Am I reading biographies?
b. Books that inspire and challenge
5. Rub shoulders with “EIP’s” – exceptionally inspiring people
a. Their presence is inspiring
6. Participate in “EIE’s” – exceptionally inspiring events
7. Pay attention to physical disciplines
a. A 20% energy gain
b. Diet/Exercise
8. Pay attention to work environment
a. Work space can add to or subtract from
b. Decorated, pictures, art that lifts spirits
c. What does my work environment do for me?
9. What inspiring recreation do I have?
a. Golf, swimming?
b. What lifts my body and spirits?
10. Practice daily spiritual disciplines
a. When God speaks to me from His Word
b. Journaling
c. Writing out prayers
d. Saturated Reflection
From a sagging spirit to a full, inspired spirit
3. What is the best way to inspire and motivate those around me?
• The best way is to live a motivated/inspired life in front of them
• My motivation can be contagious to others
• It is a “force multiplier”
• Be a fully inspired self
A. Connect every one I lead to a grander, greater, compelling vision. What they are doing connects to the greater mission.
B. Learn the inspiration language of every one on my team.
• .How do people want to be inspired?
• Tell each other how we can be inspired
C. Identify and reduce every de-motivating factor and dynamic on our team. Address and resolve them.
• .Common demotivating factors
i. Unclear job descriptions
ii. Confusing benefits
iii. Underfunded ministries
iv. Hard office space
v. Meager salaries
vi. Few learning opportunities
D. Celebrate every sign of progress toward our teams shared goals
• This gives great energy
4. What would a church look like if every one was inspired and motivated?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Keep the Royal Law-James 2.8

James 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
When I read these verses, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jeff McMillan back in 1985 in Orlando, FL. When I became the pastor of CCC, Jeff asked me why CCC existed? What is the purpose of CCC in Orlando? This was the first time I started thinking deeply about mission and purpose. His thinking was very helpful to me.
I will never forget a simple drawing he did on a flip chart that captured this “Royal Law”
Love the Lord your God
Love your neighbor
I appreciate simple and clear things. These thoughts have driven my life for the last 22 years. I was only 31 when these truths came into clarity for me.
I love waking each day and thinking of ways to grow in love with my God and how to love my neighbor. This indeed is the ROYAL LAW

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Temptation-James 1.13

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
1. Temptation will come. It does not come from God. It will come from my flesh, the world or the devil…and it will come until I take my last breath on earth.
2. There is a pattern of sin in Scripture…SEE, DESIRE, TAKE, HIDE
a. Gen. 3 – Adam and Eve
b. Joshua 7 – Achan in Ai
c. 2 Samuel 11 – David and bathsheba
3. So how do we win in this battle of temptation?

Weekly Focus - Psalm 1

Psa. 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. you have started with delighting in and meditating on God’s Word day and night… “Meditation 101”
1. Pick a time and place
2. Get a notebook/journal
3. Write out thoughts or feelings or a morning prayer
4. Pick a small book to start…Ephesians, Philippians, or James
5. Read for depth and not distance. Read and re-read small paragraphs.
6. Note words and phrases and truths that stand out
7. Put in a “Power Phrase”
8. Write on 3x5 card and carry with you to review through the day and week

The next stage is Meditation 201 – Weekly Focus
1. Have a time for a “Weekly Focus”.
o I have mine every Sunday morning before church.
o Use it to review this past week and plan for this upcoming week
2. Review the truths that God has taught you. For me, it has been...
o 7/29 – The God of PEACE. Heb.13.20
o 7/30 – Equipped with everything good. Heb.13.21
o 8/1 – John, a servant of God and Jesus Christ. James 1.1
o 8/2 – Consider it pure joy. 1.2-4
o 8/3 – Ask God for Wisdom. 1.5-8
o 8/4 – Rich men fade away like wild flowers. 1.9-11
3. How did I do in all areas of my life?
MY LIFE – My Spirit, Soul and Body
• Spiritually? How was my time with God? Am I growing?
• Mentally? Did I renew my mind?
• Volitionally? What choices did I make? For life or death?
• Emotionally? Am I letting the fruit of the Spirit rule my life? Love, joy, peace, patience, etc?
• Physically? How is my diet and exercise?
MY MARRIAGE – Intimacy and Finances
• Am I one with Debbie in our spirits, souls and bodies?
• Financially? Am I stewarding the resources God gave me?
• Am I fulfilling my role as a father, son, brother and uncle?
• Am I doing my work as unto the Lord?
• Am I achieving mission/vision and objectives?
• Am I “choosing to cheat?”
• Am I using my gifts to build up the body of Christ?
4. What are your plans in all areas for this upcoming week?
o Have you planned a 24 hour Sabbath rest?
o What are the top 1,2 or 3 things you hope to accomplish this upcoming week in all areas of LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WORK AND CHURCH?
5. Use the 7-day/21-block “Time Block” system
• The very first thing I plan is my 24-hour Sabbath. Try to find 3 connected blocks with nothing to do but your Sabbath Rest…whatever you need to do to recharge your battery.
• Whenever you have to fill a block with an appointment that you did not make, you must count it out.
• I also use this system to balance my nights out and my nights at home
6. As you look at your week ahead, what are the Top 1-3 things that you would want to accomplish in your:
7. I am convinced that as people take time for daily and weekly reflections and planning, our lives will be more centered on Jesus, more PURPOSE FULL, more BALANCED and more peace FILLED.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rich Men Will fade-James 1.9

James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
This passage intrigues me. Humble circumstances and high positons. Rich and low position. What does this all mean?
The rich will pass away like a wild flower. Life is so short and fading.
I love how I brought this idea to Debbie and she did this painting called "Fading."
Check out

Ask God for Wisdom-James 1.5

James 1.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
I love these verses. I love the idea of being able to ask God for wisdom in this life. There are so many times and things for which I need wisdom.
Today I am wondering about…
1. All the social injustices in the world…AIDS, poverty, widows, orphans, pollution, child slavery etc…the needs are great and will be until the return of the Lord. How am I to live and serve in light of these enormous global needs? I need wisdom in these things
2. My health. My heart hurts. I need wisdom whether I should have or need by pass surgery. Lord, what should I do?
3. Our wealth. I need wisdom on how to be a good steward of the wealth and resources the Lord has given us.
4. Our children. They are finding their place in this world and we need wisdom on how to help them. How do we encourage them? We need wisdom on these things.
These are just a few of the things on my mind and heart these days. Lord I need wisdom. You tell me, you promise me, that if I will ask you, you will give it to me generously.
I believe and I do not doubt. I say thank you for the thoughts, ideas and insights that you will give me over time concerning these issues.
In other places in your Word, this is what you say on wisdom…
Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Acts 6:3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
Acts 6:10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Eph. 1:8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Eph. 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Eph. 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Col. 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Col. 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
So…the rest of the story. On this day I asked God for wisdom regarding my health, I had three people in less that 30 minutes tell me to take this heart thing seriously and go to the ER.
Bill Cronin got in my face and said take it seriously.
I called my cardiologist and asked my options and she said to go to the ER.
I called Steve James and asked him and he told me to get to the ER as soon as I can. Cancel my trip to Canada and get there.
I cancelled the trip to Canada, went to the ER, had all kinds of tests taken and all test came out NORMAL.
So I asked for wisdom and I think the Lord led me through all these friends and Doctors.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Consider it Pure Joy-James 1.2

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
These 3 verses teach us so much.
1. We will face trials of many kinds. There are many of kinds of trials on the earth…
• Physical
• Relational
• Vocational
• Financial
• Persecution
• Suffering of many kinds
2. We are to consider these trials with “pure joy”. This is an amazing truth to me. How is it possible to consider “many kinds of trials” with pure joy? What is my reaction or response when I face trials of many kinds? Anger? Frustration? Medication? Fleeing? Shopping? What? Do I consider them with pure joy?
3. It says, “because I know” that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Do I? Do I know? Do I really know and believe this truth?
4. It is interesting that it is the testing of my faith. I guess the question is…do I trust God in the middle of my many kinds of trials? Do I believe? Do I have faith when all is falling down around me? When I am facing trials of many kinds, do I believe and trust God?
5. The testing of my faith produces patience…it develops perseverance. What is perseverance?
• Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success
• To persevere – to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success
• From “thoroughly” severe
6. Perseverance must finish its work. It has a work to do in me. The purpose is to mature me, to complete me where I lack nothing. To bring about a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction…not lacking anything.
7. We all want to be mature. We want to be complete. We want to feel like we lack nothing but do we want to face trials of many kinds to get there? Consider it pure joy…because these trials are producing in me a sense of maturity and completion and a sense of lacking nothing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let Another Praise You-Prov.27.2

Prov. 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
I recently received this email from a friend that I have not seen for 15 years. After spending several hours together this is what he observed and wrote. Needless to say I was very encouraged.
Okay, here are some sub-points. I didn't have to think too hard about this:
1. You love being around people - and it shows. One of the greatest people skills is wanting to be with people to begin with.
2. You always find something good to say about someone. This is one of the things I learned about you years ago, is that within a very short period of time in your conversation with someone you always had something good to say about them.
3. You understand the art of the question. Almost everytime I see you interact with someone, you are asking questions about them. You get them to talk.
4. There is an openness and approachability to you that people relate to. I certainly do.
5. You have a way of including people, of making them feel apart of what you are doing.
6. You always begin your interaction in a friendly way, expressing that your glad to see them and to be with them.
7. It is a rare thing for you to be critical of anyone, instead you are an encourager, building up the person you are with.
8. This will be hard to describe, but you have the ability to be "one of the guys" blending into the circumstances and the people you are in and with.
9. Even though you are pushing the double nickel, you act life your in your mid-thirties. The fact that you still look like you are in your mid-thirties doesn't hurt either.
10. Your one of the most "positive" people I know. This is a tremendous asset. That doesn't mean that you can't get discouraged. It means that your rarely are.
11. I can honestly say that for me, I always feel better after I have spent time with you. My tank is always a little fuller. This is high praise.

John, A Servant of God-James 1.1

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
I was struck by the phrase…A servant of God. Wow. I am a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. What a high calling and privilege.
I thought:
1. I am a servant
2. I am saved and called to serve.
3. I am to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Christ came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many
5. Look out each day to serve and not to be served.
6. Whom do I serve? God
7. How do I serve? By grace through faith using my gifts
8. When and where do I serve? To wherever God leads me
9. Why do I serve? For the glory of the Lord and the betterment of man.
What a privilege to serve in the name and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where and how we find true life.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Delight In. Meditate On-Psalm 1

The older I get, the more I see the importance of these verses in Scripture on meditation on God’s Word.
I think I was first exposed to this idea of meditating on God’s Word from Bill Gothard at his Institute of Basic Life Principles in 1980 in Portland, OR. It also stood out to me on the day of registration for seminary when I decided not to go back to school and drove to the OR coast. I was so lost and discouraged. I went and sat on a tree that had fallen across a stream and I read these words.
Psa. 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (KJV)
HIS FRUIT. HIS SEASON. These are the words that the Lord spoke to me that day. He assured me that He would bring forth HIS FRUIT in HIS SEASON, if I would delight in and meditate on His Word day and night. He assured me that whatever I did would prosper if I delighted in Him and His Word.
27 years later…this is so true and it is indeed one of the most important practices, habits, disciplines in my life.
1.  What is meditation?
Meditation is to DWELL ON anything in thought; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind; serious contemplation.
2. A few simple ideas
§ Pick a time and place and get a good cup of coffee
§ Get a notebook or journal
§ Jot down some thoughts or feelings to get out of your head.
a.   Father, I am thinking about___________________
b.   Father, I am feeling_________________________
c.   Yesterday, _______________________________
§ Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.
§ Pick a small book like Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, or James
§ Read for depth and not distance.
a.   Just read a paragraph or two…re-read it.
§ Write down the words or phrases that stand out. Write down thoughts that come to your mind.
§ Look for a big idea and put it in a “Power Phrase”
a.   EG. Pay Attention. Keep in Step.
b.   Direction Determines Destination
c.   Declare His Greatness. Surrender My Will.
§ Write it on a 3x5 card…Day, Date, Reference, Power Phrase and Verse
§ Carry it with you and review through out the week.
3. What are the benefits of meditation?
·     It renews our minds, changes our thinking, redirects our choices and restores our emotions.
·     Psalm 1.1-3 - Whatever you do will prosper.
·     Joshua 1:6-9 - You will have GREAT SUCCESS
·     Psalm 119:9,11 - You will have new POWER over sin.
·     Psalm 119:97-104 - You will EXCEL in wisdom and understanding.
·     It increases FAITH…faith comes by hearing.

Letter to Andrej

Dear Andrej,
I have been writing this letter in my head for a long time and wanted to finally send it to you as we continue down this road to a wedding and marriage to Rebekah.
First of all, I also want to praise you and thank you for all you did to finish your schooling as you prepare for a life that is fully surrendered to the Lordship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Congratulations. He has an incredible plan for you and Rebekah and He will lead you, as you stay fully surrendered to Him.
Congratulations too on your job at Lion Bridge. I know it is only a start, but it will be the beginning of all the ways that God will train and develop you as His son and His servant. I know you are an awesome employee.
I want to thank you for the way that you have loved and honored your mother and sister and have fulfilled the role as the man in your home. I know it has prepared you well for all your future relationships. We look forward to getting to know your family better over the years.
As you know so well, Rebekah means more to me than any woman on this earth other than her mom and my incredible wife of 32 years. You know that we have loved Rebekah from the second she was born. She has brought so much joy and gladness and love to our hearts and family. You know what an incredible woman she is. So soon Samo will ask me, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”. And I will say, “Her mother and I.” As you can well imagine this will be a potentially very emotional time for Debbie and me. But we will do this, with the hope and anticipation that you will continue to treat Rebekah with such love and grace and humility and honor and service as you have done.
You have demonstrated your love for God and your love and desire for Rebekah and it is my prayer and hope that your love will only grow deeper and richer and sweeter over time, as you ask the Lord to build your marriage and your family.
I want you to know that I will count it an honor and privilege to call you “my son” when you and Bekah are married. I love the idea of having 4 sons and 4 daughters. It is such a blessing to anticipate this.
Andrej, I love you and I’m excited about the days, weeks, months and years to come. I am excited about all the wedding and honeymoon plans, but more than that I am excited about a marriage that will be built on Jesus Christ and a home that will raise up a godly generation. I know you and Rebekah will be an awesome couple and family in which the light and life and love of Jesus Christ will shine brightly.
Know how much we love you, pray for you and are for you now and in the years to come.
With deep respect,
PS. Happy Birthday. I hope you loved your birthday surprise and to add to the fun we wanted to give you this very special gift not only for your birthday but also for the job well done in finishing your school.
Congratulations and enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Letter to Beks

My Sweet Rebekah,
It is one week before you get on the plane to your new life with Andrej in SK. Wow! Needless to say - many thoughts, many emotions. I’ve decided to write little by little, day by day as I prepare for this transition.
You are hopefully reading this on the plane as you fly to your new world. I feel less sorry for you if you are reading this in first class. ☺
So single life is about over, 73-74 days or so – amazing! You are and have been an amazing woman and you will be an amazing wife and mother and friend. God has put so many gifts in you and has given you so many great experiences. None of them will be wasted. I think of all of these aspects when I think of you:
(1) A Mistress of The Domain. You will be awesome in setting up your new home and making it a place that will glorify the Lord, minister to Andrej and your family and friends. We can’t wait to see it.
(2) You will be a great Helper/Completer. This will be your new role as you help Andrej become and fulfill the calling in and on his life. Your gifts will indeed be a completion to him and his.
(3) I have no question you will be an amazing “Life Giver”. The Lord opens and closes the womb. It is He who gives and creates children. I hope you will be able to have and raise 4-6 amazing children of your own. Keep trusting the Lord for this in His time.
(4) You are a “Lady of Wisdom”. You have so much wisdom the Lord has given you over the years. Use it prayerfully. Use it carefully and keep your trust in the Lord, whether Andrej follows your counsel or advice. The Lord will direct your path. Thank you for being a wise woman and daughter and soon a wise wife.
(5) You are “The Glory of Andrej”. You will be a crown upon his head. Be a bright and radiant crown that brings glory to God and Andrej.
You will be able to close out the chapters of your single life with great joy and peace and pleasure and a sense that you walked with God and did His will. Way to go!
Well 2 more months and we will be together - enjoying your new world is Slovakia. Seeing your flat, sipping some coffee, drinking a few beers in the square, having a fun dinner in The Castle, traveling as a family to Prague and then launching you to your new season. That will be so much fun.
My dear Rebekah, you are so ready and so prepared and you are and will be pleasing to the Lord, Andrej and your family in all respects. Give thanks to the Lord for His grace and goodness to have placed you in our family with the wonderful influences of godly grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so many who put their “fingerprints” on you.
Thank the Lord for all the ways He led you and kept you all of these years. Thank Him for His protection on your life and for leading you to this awesome man, Andrej. And thank Him for all that He will continue to do in you, to you and through you.
You know I love you and have cherished our relationship all of these 28 years. You have made me such a glad father. You know I will miss you terribly, but go celebrate this next chapter and season of your life.
Go into it with your head held high with great faith, hope and love in our God and Savior, Jesus. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He will always be with you and He will always help you as you call upon His Name.
Enjoy the rest of the flight and enjoy the rest of the Lord as you enter your new world.
I love you so-o-o much and am so-o proud of you.
One of your greatest fans and cheerleaders,
A grateful and blessed Dad!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

360 Degree Leadership-Bill Hybels

Several years ago I heard a message and read a chapter in the book, Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels called, “360 Degree Leadership – The Art of Self Leadeership”
It was the first time I heard the idea and importance of leading North, South, East and West. Most of the time we are thinking about leading people below us. He suggested that we give 50% of our attention to self-leadership.
He asked several helpful questions:
1. Is my calling sure?
2. Is my vision clear?
3. Is my passion hot?
4. Am I developing my gifts?
5. Is my character submitted to Christ?
6. Is my pride subdued?
7. Am I overcoming fear?
8. Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
9. Is my pace sustaihnable?
10. Is my love for God and people increasing?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Continually Praise-Heb.13.15

Heb. 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Praise. This is such a big theme in Scripture. In Psalms alone the word is used 169 times.
Psa. 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
Psa. 8:2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Psa. 9:1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psa. 18:46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!
This is not an easy thing to do. Especially continually…yet praise is such an important part of life. Often people try to praise God on their own. It can only be fully and adequately and continually done through Jesus.

As I thought about this, I thought…

1. He is the Lord and Creator of all things. Continually praise God for His creation…the sun, the moon, the stars…all things through Jesus.
2. Through Jesus, my father and mother were saved and walked in the ways of the Lord.
3. Through Jesus I was sovereignly placed in my family and made a 2nd born male.
4. Through Jesus I was saved in 1968 and so were my sisters
5. Through Jesus He gave me His Word on which I have built my entire life for the last 39 years.
6. Through Jesus He gave me His Holy Spirit to help me, to comfort me, to teach me, to remind me, to lead me and to be my Counselor.
7. Through Jesus He is making intercession for me before my heavenly Father
8. Through Jesus He is making a family in heaven and on earth of which I am a part.
9. Through Jesus He led me to a Bible College where I met my sweet heart and life long lover, companion and helper.
10. Through Jesus He gave me 4 awesome children and now 4 awesome daughters and son in law.
11. Through Jesus He led me all the way…through good times and hard times…to humble me, to test me and to know what was in my heart.
12. Through Jesus He has given me a good work to do as a servant, a minister, a pastor, an exhorter, a mentor and developer of men.
13. Through Jesus He is healing and changing me little by little, day by day
14. Through Jesus He will take me home when all of my ordained days on the earth are through
15. Through Jesus He will judge the quick and the dead at His coming and appearing the 2nd time.
No wonder we are instructed to continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God through Jesus…all things are from Him, by Him and for Him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Prudent-Prov.27.12

Prov. 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

I continue to think about the truth of a prudent man and woman.
It means…acting with or showing care and thought for the future; foreseeing or attending to.
It is a contraction of the word “provident”…making or indicative of timely preparation for the future.
Provident comes from “providere or to provide”
I believe I must give more attention to the future…not only in this life but also to the life to come.
I am very challenged and inspired by this word and truth. This word is found 10+ times in the Scriptures.
1. Prov. 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
• I love these words and qualities. The proverbs were written to give me…wisdom, discipline, understanding, prudence, knowledge, discretion, learning and guidance. Who would not want that? Only a fool.
2. Prov. 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
• I love the idea of being so “Spirit controlled/self controlled”, that I can overlook an insult. A fool shows his annoyance at once…do I? Am I a man who is patient and longsuffering? Will I show my annoyance or over look the insult?
3. Prov. 12:23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
• This one intrigues me. It speaks of holding a confidence. Keeping someone’s secrets to himself versus blurting out. I want to be a man who can keep knowledge to myself and not blurt out anything.
4. Prov. 13:16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.
• I want to be a man who acts out of knowledge instead of foolishness. Gain and store up knowledge so that I may be able to act this way in the moment.
5. Prov. 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
• Give thought to my ways…do not keep going and suffer for it. What ways do I need to give thought to?
• Do not be a deceptive man. No deception in any area of my life. Live in the light of God and the truth.
6. Prov. 14:15 A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
• Do not believe any thing and every thing. Listen, ask for wisdom, get wise counsel and give thought to my steps.
• I love the idea of giving thought to my ways and to my steps.
7. Prov. 14:18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
• I love this idea of being crowned with knowledge. I want to know the Lord and then be filled with the knowledge of His Word and His ways.
8. Prov. 19:14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
• Thank you Jesus for a prudent wife and all the blessing she has brought from you into my life. I am a blessed man because of Debbie.
9. Amos 5:13 Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
• I love this idea of knowing when to be quiet and knowing when to speak.
This is such good information and truth. To think about and be a prudent man. Lord, I want more of this in my life. I want to grow in my prudence, understanding, discipline and knowledge. I look to You.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Looking Ahead - Prov.27.12

Prov. 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

It is amazing to me how Andy took one verse, one idea, one truth and principle and taught it sooooo well. I was greatly refreshed by these words.

DIRECTION not intention determines DESTINATION…How do you know the right path?

2 different people, 2 responses and 2 outcomes

Prudent vs. Simple
Wise vs. Naive
Life is connected vs. Disconnected
Cause & Effect vs. Today is today
In light of my past, present and future hopes and dreams, what is the wisest thing to do?
Not thinking about the future
Takes refuge Vs. Keeps going
Does something Vs. Does nothing
Safe Vs. Suffers for it
Looks foolish Against the flow Vs. Acts like then is now
Avoids pain Vs. It will work out
I should Vs. I ought to
You’re right Vs. Feels convicted

There are points of no return…a place where all options are bad.
A principle is broken and you break yourself against this principle.
Life is moving…relationships are moving…they are going somewhere. It is wise to respond to the direction of things…money and relationships

4 Words:
a. Do something. Act.
b. Have the hard conversation
a. Give something up
b. This will cost us something
a. People will not understand
b. Do it anyway
a. We will breathe a big sign of relief when we act and sacrifice

What path am I on? Where do I need to get off?
Heavenly Father, Help me to see trouble coming long before it gets here.
Then grant me the wisdom to know what to do and
The courage to do it

As I listened to this message, I was convicted of my health. I had 98% blockage of my RCA and a heart stint put in on 01.19.07 and have basically not done many things to change.

1. I got off my medication
2. I have not returned for my 6 month check up
3. I have not done the blood work
4. I have not adjusted my diet that much.
5. I still weigh 218 and should weigh 200-205.
6. I am not hydrating as I should
7. I am not eating 6 small meals a day

This feels foolish and simple…Father, give me the courage to pay attention and not be a fool. Be wise and prudent and take refuge. I need the grace to help in time of need and the accountability to change.