Friday, February 28, 2014

God laughed at me

I woke up about 3:30 am with one thought pressing on my mind and heart.  Pray.

What!  God, don’t you know what time it is?  I have to go to work in a few hours.  I need some more sleep.  Still that nagging feeling – Pray.

So, I prayed and I asked God, “What do you want me to pray about?  What is so important that it has to been done now?  It’s 3:30 in the morning.”  (OK – I might have had a bad attitude.)

God just continued to impress on my heart to pray.  So I prayed for a family from our church that I had visited with last evening at the funeral home.  They were burying their mother and then I prayed for their son as he was distraught over losing his grandmother.  I prayed for a family in our community that lost their 18 year old daughter to a car accident this week.  I prayed for my Mom as she faces surgery for uterine cancer.  I prayed for my family, my marriage, my daughter.  I prayed for my job and the people I come into contact with at work.  I prayed for our small group of girls that gather together to pray on Fridays. 

I looked up and it was 4:30.  Maybe I can still get another hour of sleep.  Nope.  God was still impressing on my heart to continue to pray.  And so I prayed and told God that I didn’t know what else to pray for.  Then he impressed on my heart that I hadn’t prayed about anything for me personally.  I then knew what I needed to do and I prayed about some things in my own life.  I tried to listen for answers.  I tried to just be still.  (I have a hard time with that one.)  Then I felt my heart move into a time of praise and worship.  What a sweet time this morning.

I looked over and the clock said 5:30.  Time for me to get moving.  And so my last prayer was for strength to get through the day.  I could have sworn I heard God laugh at me.  I know there was no audible voice but just an impression in my heart.  God was telling me that if I can trust Him in all these other things, surely I can trust Him for strength.  He also impressed on my heart that we had just spent the last 2 hours together preparing to meet the day and that He’d already met my need for strength for the day. 

And so, I headed off into the day with joy in heart.  Looking forward to what the day may bring.  Trusting my Savior in all things …


Psalm 100:5  “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 91:2  “I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!””

Psalm 143:8  “Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.”


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are you living what you say you believe

What are your thoughts about this video?

Don’t make these 3 mistakes

Thinking today about salvation and some mistakes that people sometimes make.

Mistake #1 – Believing you are saved because of your heritage

You can’t inherit your parents’ salvation.  Salvation is personal.  No one can do it for you. 

John 8:42-44 

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.  Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Jesus is talking to the Pharisees (religious leaders) and telling them that while He speaks the words of His Father, they speak the words of their father, the devil.  The Pharisees thought they were saved because of their Jewish bloodline.  After all, the Jews were the chosen people.  They knew the law and the followed the traditions of their ancestors.  They felt this was enough to make God their Father. 

Perhaps you think that too.  You think that because your parents are Christians and you go to church, that you are therefore a Christian.  After all, if you had to chose from a list of religions, that’s the only one that fits. 

Keith Green was quoted as saying “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”

Jesus says, “If God were your Father, you would love me …”   You are required to have a relationship with Christ in order to be a Christian.  Jesus said you need to love me  He didn’t say if your parents love me, or if your church loves me.  It is your decision. 

Mistake #2 – Believing you are saved because you are a good person.

Luke 18:10-14 

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In this parable, we see that the Pharisee thinks he is saved because of the things he does.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons today that people think they are saved.  I don’t cuss, or smoke, or cheat on my spouse – therefore, I must be saved.  After all, I live a pretty good life.  I try to help others.

Jesus refutes this by telling us that it’s not the Pharisee who is justified, it is the tax collector.  To be justified, we need to be honest about who we are and what we’ve done.  We must be humble before a holy God.  We must realize that we have sinned and ask God to forgive us.

One more thing to notice.  Notice that the Pharisee compared himself and his behavior to the tax collector.  Notice that the tax collector compared himself to God.  The tax collector had the right idea. 

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  It is the glory of God that we should compare our lives to and not other people.  It is not good enough to be better than others.  Other people are not standard for entrance into heaven.  God holds the standard and if we are to get in on our own effort, the standard is perfection.  This is why we need forgiveness from Christ. 

Romans 3:24 goes on to tell us that we can be saved because we are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Mistake #3 – Believing you are saved because of your good works.

Matthew 7:21-23

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Here we find Jesus talking about who will be able to enter heaven.  Notice that the people are reminding Jesus of all the great things they’ve done.  Jesus refutes this by saying He won’t accept their works.  Remember, it is God’s glory that is the standard that we are held to and it is perfect.  So unless everything we do is perfect, we fall short of His standard.  When we try to offer good deeds to atone for our sin, God rejects those deeds because they are stained with our sin. 

Jesus says that we need to do the will of His Father in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  So what is that?  Acts 17:30 says that “He commands all people everywhere to repent.”   That simply means to turn away from our sin and turn to Christ.

While our works are stained with our sin and rejected by the Father, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is perfect and acceptable.  When we trust Christ as our Savior, we are relying on His sacrifice to pay for our sins. 

So how are we saved?

God gives us salvation through His Son.  It isn’t based on what I’ve done, it is based on what Jesus did for me. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I John 5:11-13

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”


What goes through your mind and heart when you hear the word cancer?

I’ve had friends with cancer and I’ve prayed for quite a few people who have had cancer.  Somehow it changes when it is your family member who is affected.

I recently found out my Mom has uterine cancer.  Now if you have to get cancer, this is probably one of the better ones to get.  It is supposedly a slow growing cancer.  We don’t know a lot yet.  She has consultations coming up with the surgeon and the oncologist.  We know she will undergo a hysterectomy and while they are doing that, they will check her lymph nodes.  We really won’t know the extent of anything until after surgery.  So right now we are praying and trusting God.  Praying for containment of the cancer and that the surgery gets it all.

While this caught us by surprise, we know that it didn’t catch God by surprise. We know that He is in control.  We also know Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

We are trusting Him and walking by faith.  It is in times of difficulties that you show your faith by your actions.  Now is the time.  Trust and obey.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I have been attending an educational technology conference this week.  Yesterday I went to a session on Virtual Integrity.  The speaker was pretty good as he talked about honesty, morality, and being authentic with your online presence.  However, I was thinking – why?  If I am not a Christian, why would I want to do that?  What is integrity based on if it is not based on the absolute truth of God’s Word.

With that in mind, I decided to look at what Biblical integrity looks like.

I think integrity comes from obedience to God’s Word.  If I am obedient to the principles of the Word, then I will be honest, truthful, and reliable.  I will keep my word even when it isn’t convenient.  I will do my best even when no one is looking.  I will be honest even when it hurts.

Psalm 15

“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;

3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;

4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;

5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.”

Integrity is the application of character.  It is the demonstration of who we are in Christ and that our faith is real because it is backed up with our attitudes, actions, and words.  The absence of integrity is an indication that our faith may not be genuine.  It is essential that as we grow in our relationship with the Lord that we allow Him to transform us.  (Romans 12)

We are called to live lives of integrity.  We are to be true to our word.  We are to guard our tongues.  We are to be truthful and honest.  We are to represent Christ – after all He is living in us! 

So, are you a person of integrity? If we claim to follow Christ, then it is imperative that our lives reflect Him.  Are you living out what you say you believe?

Zechariah 8:16-17

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.”

As Christians, we are held to a higher standard than others.  A standard of truth, love, honesty, and excellence.  We are to place character above ambition.  We are to focus on glorifying God and not ourselves.  We are to do the right thing all the time without fear.  We are put into practice everything we learned from the Word.  We are to be willing to do this without first considering our own comfort, convenience, or challenges. 

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We become a Christian by faith.  Our maturity in our faith is somewhat determined by the choices that we make.  Do we choose to spend time in the Word?  Do we choose to get involved in a local body of believers?  Do we choose to live our lives consistent to what we have been taught? 

When we make bad choices there is grace and forgiveness but there are also consequences. God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin.  Beware of anyone who tells you to just do it now and confess it later.  That is not what God desires for us.  (Romans 6)

Look out for people who try to convince you to put aside your integrity and character.  They may have really appealing arguments.  They may put pressure on you.  They may rationalize their actions.  They may say - Oh, just this one time won’t hurt anything.  Just say no and walk away.

Do not worry when others come up against you when you stand for the truth.  Keep standing firm and do the right thing.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Without regret or apologies, live your life in way to please the Lord. 

Colossians 3:17

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

How do we do that? Know who you are in Christ.  Remember what He did for you on the cross.  Know that he gives you everything you need.  Trust Him to take care of you.

Be willing to model Christ’s character.  God wants authentic Christians.  Non-Christians look at our lives and it may be our silent testimony that either draws them to the Savior or causes them to reject Him.


Proverbs 10:9  “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

Proverbs 20:7  “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.”

1 Chronicles 29:17   “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.”

James 1:22  “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where does God want me to be …

I have been recently wondering (as I sometimes do), if I am where God wants me to be.  Opportunities to minister in my current school are limited.  I struggle seeing that I am having any impact here at all. 

As I prayed through these thoughts this week, I was reminded how I got this position.  To make a long story short – I sent out dozens of resumes prior to our move to PA.  I got one interview.  It was for a position that didn’t currently exist and I got the job.  God completely provided this position. 

I needed reminded of these facts.  I needed reminded that God provided.  I needed reminded that I am where He called me to be. 

God reminded me of something I wrote a while back – Don’t leave the front line of the battle I’ve placed you in just because you want to fight somewhere else.

When we know we are where God wants us to be, then simply be satisfied serving Him there.  Don’t look at other people’s ministries and wish you were there.  Don’t be jealous that God isn’t using you the way he is using someone else.  When you make your life a living sacrifice then you are willing to be used anywhere, in any way, at any time.

We don’t see the battle the way God does.  We don’t see the impact we have on those we come in contact with.  God sees the beginning and the end.  God sees the hearts of people.  We may never reap the harvest from all the seeds we’ve sown, but God knows. 

If God has placed you in a specific place to minster then it is because he believes you are the correct person for that particular time and place.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  Just trust Him and serve Him.

And so I continue to do my best to live the way Christ would want me to live - to live out my faith through my actions at work (I’m not allowed to talk about it).  After all, James tell us that faith without works is dead. 

I do what I can to encourage others.  I got an email from one lady that simply started with, “I know you pray and wanted to know if you would pray for me”  and then she went on to tell me what she needed prayer for.  I had another instance where I was asked to help sponsor a student prayer group.  The person who asked me said she knew I was interested in that stuff.  What you do and how you live your life matters.  It speaks louder than words sometimes. 

And so I continue to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and the battle before me.  Should He want me to fight somewhere else, He’ll let me know and if He does I need to be ready to move on.  Until then, I will bloom where I am planted.  I will be satisfied.  I will rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. 

I needed to be reminded.  I needed this pep talk.  What about you ….  Will you be salt and light?  Will you fight with all your heart the battle that the Lord has placed you in?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thoughts for worship leaders

I had some feedback from a few people on my last post about worship.  This post addresses some of their ideas and concerns about the leading of worship.

I firmly believe that you cannot be an effective worship leader if your heart isn’t right with the Lord.  However, does it take more than a committed heart?

1 Chronicles 15:22 tells us that David chose Kenaniah to be in charge of the singing “because he was skillful at it.”

Psalm 33:3 tells us that musicians are to “play skillfully”.

Where does the skill come from?

God gives us each our own unique set of gifts and abilities.  Is that enough?

1 Chronicles 25:7 talks about musicians who ministered in the tabernacle were trained in singing to the Lord.

We must be diligent in developing our skills. It is our responsibility to develop our God given talents so they can be used to worship Him.  We should practice and know our music – that means everyone – choir, instrumentalists, soloists, etc.

Now with that in mind, remember that God isn’t listening to the sound of our music or the quality of our performance.  He’s listening to our hearts.  What impresses God is a broken and contrite spirit.  (Psalm 51:17)  Never take pride in your polished performance.  Rather be humbled that God has gifted you and allowed you to privilege of leading worship. 

So which is it?  Skillful performer or broken heart.

I think effective worship leaders are both.

The more comfortable you are with the music, the more you can focus on God.  You can’t focus on God if you don’t know your music and you are struggling with the notes and the words. 

Also, you can’t lead people into worship if they are confused with which words to sing or what verse are they are on.  The leaders need to give clarity to the worship and minimize distractions. 

Worship leaders need to possess a calm and joyful countenance.  Your face needs to communicate peace and hope.  If you are well rehearsed, know your music, and know the order of worship, you can relax while you lead and your face will radiate your worship. 

Good leaders help draw attention to what and who is important.  They help people focus.

Leading worship requires a sincere heart that is fully committed to God but it also also requires skill and preparation.   Remembering the goal is not the perfect performance.  The goal is causing people to see Jesus and come to him in humble adoration and praise. 

It’s really all about Jesus.