Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's OK to Shout the Good News


Merry Christmas!



Some people crank up their souped up stereo system in their car loud enough to make the cars next to them at a stop light vibrate. I've been to a football game where the crowd was so loud after a particular play that the luxury box glass windows shook, and the noise was comparable to a sonic boom. In my time, I've seen grown women scream over the Beatles, adults pledge their allegiance to all things Star Wars, and most recently, people killing each other to be the first to get a "Christmas bargain" at a department store.

All found to be acceptable and unoffensive behavior.

However, mention Jesus...suggest an afterschool Bible study, vote yes on Prop 8 (support for traditional marriage), call a parade or event, a Christmas Parade or Christmas Happening...and all heck breaks loose.

Enough. As for me an my house, I will serve the Lord.

It's time to shout the Good News! ...and not be concerned of the backlash. After all, sometimes the truth divides.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." - John 1:14

There it is...Christmas in a nutshell...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

You may not hear me shouting it right now...but, there you go, I've blogged it:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sincerely,
Alexander

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Reason to Celebrate




If you haven't been to TheScroogeReport yet, now is your opportunity. I've posted a Christmas devotional there by Rick Warren, Christmas is a Time of Salvation.

Now, more than ever, challenged by the tough economic times, our celebration of Christmas is important!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why Celebrate Christmas?


That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!". . . When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child....The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God... - Luke 2:8–12, 15–17, 20 (NLT)

I wanted to apologize for originally announcing that Rick Warren would be giving the first Sunday message on the 3-week series, The Purpose of Christmas. Youth pastor and funny guy extraordinaire, Doug Fields, gave the first message, "A Change of Celebration." Also, although the previous link I gave leads to the homepage of live, current series, and archived messages, you may have had to make another click. Here's the link directly to Doug Fields message.

Here's the question to ask this first week. Why celebrate Christmas? From the verses above we see that the shepards certainly did celebrate the birth of Jesus...

They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child...The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God...

What was the reason to run, tell everyone, and praise God? What were they looking for? What did they find?

This week, let's ask ourselves these questions with a focus on Christmas.

DIGG!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Series Begins




It's here! A 3-week study on the purpose of Christmas begins this weekend. Hopefully, you have a copy of The Purpose of Christmas. Don't worry about it if you don't. Begin by listening to the study's opening message by Saddleback Church's Pastor Rick.

You can view and listen to his first message on the purpose of Christmas here!

Hope to see you back here on Tuesday, Dec. 9th, to discuss Rick's opening message about the purpose of Christmas. Oh, and let's try and read that first chapter by then, too.

Let's have our own 3-week study right here!

The Purpose of Christmas is available at Amazon.com, Costco, and check with your local book stores.

See you later!


_______________

WEEK ONE: Why Celebrate Christmas?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Priority Adjustment


Business program host Cavuto interviews Warren on Christmas
Pastor Rick Warren gives a way to celebrate Christmas in tough financial times



Don't forget, I'm having a bloggers book study on The Purpose of Christmas right here! Get more information, including on how to get the book at my post, Blogging on the purpose of Christmas.

DIGG!
_______________

WEEK ONE: Why Celebrate Christmas?


Hannity and Colmes: Warren on Christmas


"The Purpose of Christmas" Launches



I'm having a book study on The Purpose of Christmas right here! Get more information, including on how to get the book at my post, Blogging on the purpose of Christmas.
_______________

WEEK ONE: Why Celebrate Christmas?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

If you stop to think about it...


I hope you either already have a copy of Rick Warren's The Purpose of Christmas or plan on getting one soon. Remember, I'm asking you to join a "blogger's book study," if you will, right here, starting this coming Tuesday (Dec. 9).

I read the opening chapter last night and found it to be not only to the point, but fun!

Also, I wanted to share the back cover of the book with you here:

If you stop to think abouit it, it is astounding that the simple, unasuming birth of a peasant baby boy more than two thousand years ago in the Middle East can today cause traffic jams every December in places like New York City, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro.

The night Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, a small group of poor shepherds were quietly tending their flocks of sheep in a nearby field, looking up at the stars. Nothing seemed any different from a thousand other nights. But what was about to happen would transform not only their lives, but billions of other lives as well. The world would never be the same again.


Then the back cover also includes this:

Regardless of your religious background, you need to know how the three purposes of Christmas solve your three greatest needs.

Understanding and receiving God's Christmas gifts to you will transform your life...forever!


See you back here next week for the beginning of a study on The Purpose of Christmas!
_______________

WEEK ONE: Why Celebrate Christmas?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blogging on the Purpose of Christmas



Want to do a 3-week study on the purpose of Christmas? It's simple. Start by getting Rick Warren's book, The Purpose of Christmas, then listen this coming Saturday (Dec. 6, 2008) to the study's opening message by Saddleback Church's Pastor Rick.

You can view and listen to his first message on the purpose of Christmas here!

Let's do this! Let's meet back here on Tuesday, Dec. 9th, to discuss Rick's opening message about the purpose of Christmas. Oh, and let's try and read that first chapter by then, too.

Let's have our own 3-week study right here!

Be sure to pick up a copy of The Purpose of Christmas now!

I'd love to see you back!


Note: The books are available at Costco as well!

DIGG!
_______________

WEEK ONE: Why Celebrate Christmas?


Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyber Help Needed!


Can you believe all the hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday? If you've been following the news you've heard about the tragedies at a Wal Mart in New York and a Toys R Us in Palm Springs during Friday's mania.

Hopefully, today will be a bit more subdued. Can carpel tunnel be fatal?



Anyways, wanted to let you know that, like many of us, my employment is on the line right now. If you have a moment please go to my post, Help Keep My Job, about my own personal bailout plan. You can actually help me out by doing something you may already be doing or planning on doing - shopping online.

I pray your shopping decisions are wise and that all of us think about the one we are celebrating this season and always, Jesus Christ!

Can I hear an Amen?

DIGG! (For this bailout plan!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Youth Group: A 50-Cent Parable


What are you worth?

I wanted to share a parable about Jesus' sacrifice for you, what it means and how valuable it is. Presented by the CICF Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Nov. 23, 2008, during the annual Thanksgiving gathering. Cast: Michael Quintans, Daniel Custodio, Krista Flores, Myles Dacio, Jimmy Aviles and Jonathan Benjamin.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Such a Time as This, How Do We Pray?




God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. — Psalm 46:1-2

How do we pray?


With confidence and belief that He will deliver: “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God's presence, assured of his glad welcome” (Ephesians 3:12). “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (Hebrews 4:16).

This is my prayer...that His Church grow strong and unified. As individuals we reflect Him in us like never before. Our opportunity to do so is now!

And on another note...

The election is over, and I'm committed to pray for the new President. I've signed up for The Presidential Prayer Team's 77 Days of Prayer for Our Next President initiative. I'd like to invite you to sign up too. You'll receive an email every morning with a concise, scripturally oriented prayer for the new President. It's a wonderful way to help our country move into the next chapter that God has for us. You can sign up here:

The Presidential Prayer Team's 77 Days of Prayer

This is a meaningful way we can help our country during these difficult days.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shortcuts and Me


I'm a pleasure seeker. That's my disease. I'd rather seek pleasure before responsibility, before work, and before a lot of things.

Now, don't get me wrong. Having pleasure is a God-given feeling. However, for some of us, we reason that if one day at Disneyland is a blast, then why not spend a week at Disneyland? If one In-and-Out cheeseburger is good, why not have three of them? If one wife is good, why not have a dozen? (Just kidding on that last one.)

My desire for pleasure too much of the time is the first thing I thought about when I read a devotion this morning by Henry Blackaby. You will sometimes be tempted to take shortcuts to your destinations in life. The first line in this devotion made me think, "Heck, ya! A shortcut is so much better in my life then having to endure any struggle, any pain, and any responsibility."

Well, guess what I learned (again) today? I better squash that desire to do it my way and wait for God's way. Why? Because His plans are so much more important than my plans...and my pleasure.

This from Blackakby's Experiencing God Day by Day:

TEMPTED BY SHORTCUTS

Then Abishai said to David, "God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!" - 1 Samuel 26:8

You will sometimes be tempted to take shortcuts to your destinations in life. David faced this temptation numerous times before he finally assumed the throne. Samuel, God’s prophet, had anointed David and prophesied that he would be the next king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:12–13). Yet, while David waited on God’s timing, he watched in frustration as a crazed King Saul brought the kingdom into jeopardy. Saul pursued David to murder him, forcing David to flee for his life.

Then an incredible opportunity presented itself to David. David found Saul in a vulnerable position, sleeping with his army. Abishai, one of David’s warriors, offered to kill Saul. It seemed to make perfect sense. Saul had tried to kill David on numerous occasions. God had said He intended for David to be the king. By taking matters into his own hands, David could bring an end to his exile and assume the throne as God’s anointed servant. Yet he refused to compromise his integrity in order to become king, even though he wanted the position and it was rightfully his. Accomplishing God’s will in any manner other than the way God prescribed was unthinkable.

At times you may face similar temptations. Well-meaning friends advise you to hasten God’s will for you rather than waiting upon Him. You may be sorely tempted to take control of your situation, assuming the end will justify the means. These are the times when you must trust God’s perfect timing. God may plan for you to attain a certain position or take a new direction, but the timing may not be right. Watch over your heart. Don’t allow others to persuade you to compromise your integrity as you follow God’s will.

_______________


"Experiencing God Day-By-Day" is based on Henry Blackaby’s multi-million selling "Experiencing God" book and Bible study. Find insight and grace in this 365-day devotional focused on the divine presence in each life and around us.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Early Exit Polls Show...


BREAKING NEWS: Unidentified pollsters staking ground outside early ballot voting locations across the U.S. have discovered a common thread in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and other key battleground states.

With the 2008 Presidential Election results still not in, the anonymous group, with the help of key indicators, was able to make 10 substantial predictions:

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.



and...God approves this message!

Note: Reporters were able to publish this story with the help of an intercepted email from an unidentified campaign brother or sister...ah, er, check that...staffer.

DIGG!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Your Connection


Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light. — Matthew 11:29–30



As I got out of the shower this morning I had running in my head the song lyrics "I will wait upon the Lord, I will wait upon the Lord. He reigns! He reigns forever!" Not sure of the name of the song or who wrote it, but I took a deep breath and said to myself, "there, that's better. I have connected with my Lord!"

I love it when He does that! When He reminds me that life is so much easier with Him. That's not to say that we are given a free pass on hardship or upheaval. It just means we can lean on Jesus to get us through not only the day, but the rest of our lives!

This from Greg Laurie's Harvest Daily Devotion:

The Two-Part Invitation

In Matthew 11, Jesus follows His invitation to rest with the invitation to take His yoke and learn from Him. He is telling us there is more; His invitation to rest is a package deal. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, then we will take His yoke upon us. But what does that mean?

The concept of a yoke would have been readily understood by the people of Jesus' day. It was a steering device that was placed on animals to guide the plows or carts they were pulling.

So Jesus, in essence, is saying, "Take my steering device upon you." He is saying, "Let me be in control of your life. Let me guide your life. Let me direct your life."

You might be thinking, "Here Jesus says that He will give me rest. Now He is saying to put on His yoke and learn. That sounds like work."

I want you to know that it will be as much of a weight to you as wings are to a bird. It will be a joy, because now, instead of wasting your life serving yourself or living for pleasure or success or whatever else one lives for, you will be channeling your energies into following and serving Jesus Christ.

You may give up some things to follow the Lord. But what you give up can't begin to compare to what He has given you. It is not just a great thing to do with your life. It is the most satisfying to do with your life.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's OK To Run the 'Opposite Way'


For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. - 1 Corinthians 1:21 NIV

I found myself getting weak this political season...defending my positions, getting tired of the fight, the attack on Jesus...and the numbers of the lost. However, my hope is in Him...I will stand my ground with His help...and remember that it's okay to run the opposite way! - Alexander

OPPOSITE WAY by LEELAND



Living in the same town
For all these years
Doing the same old things
Hanging with the same crowd
And it’s starting to get crippling
You’ve never felt in place
And you tell yourself it’s all okay
But something’s different today
You want to run the opposite way

And it seems like you’re locked in a cage
And you need to find a way of escape
When everyone is setting the pace
It’s okay to run the opposite way
- "Opposite Way" by Leeland

_______________


GRAMMY-nominated, 5-piece rock band Leeland, from Baytown, Texas, goes the 'opposite way' with its second in-studio release, Opposite Way. Produced by Matt Bronleewe (Jars of Clay) and engineered by Ben Grosse (Ben Folds, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Opposite Way is passionate and progressive music that provides an unforgettable, emotional experience for all who listen.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

There's No Debate


The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. - John 1:14 NKJV

This morning I needed to reconnect. I dropped on my knees and prayed. I told God I was sorry for being such a loser...and you know what? He told me it was OK, that He loved me no matter what, and to be strong in Him. I started to cry and after a few good heaves, He told me to get up and start my day.

At work, at my computer, before I started doing my job, I read a blog post from wafererjon at walking with Father. His journal-style blog was titled "Why Do I Write This Blog?" For me, it was encouraging, and yet another way to reconnect with the one who loves me no matter what.

One more attempt at bolstering up my day brought me to a devotion by Max Lucado...and now I think I'm ready to start my day! There's no debating that God loves me...sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don't. But, that doesn't matter. He loves me all the time.

I hope and pray you find the encouragement you need to do this day, walking strong, knowing He loves you!

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, Volume 2:

"The Word became flesh," John said. In other words…he was touchable, approachable, reachable. And, what’s more, he was ordinary. If he were here today, you probably wouldn’t notice him as he walked through a shopping mall. He wouldn’t turn heads by the clothes he wore or the jewelry he flashed.

"Just call me Jesus," you can almost hear him say.

He was the kind of fellow you’d invite to watch the Rams-Giants game at your house. He’d wrestle on the floor with your kids, doze on your couch, and cook steaks on your grill. He’d laugh at your jokes and tell a few of his own. And when you spoke, he’d listen to you as if he had all the time in eternity.

And one thing’s for sure, you’d invite him back.

____________________

Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times—1999 for "Just Like Jesus," 1997 for "In the Grip of Grace" and 1995 for "When God Whispers Your Name."

Max Lucado is a fixture on the national bestseller lists – a Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past dozen years. He has appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. He has won eight ECPA Gold Medallion awards. - MaxLucado.com


Go to Max Lucado's Book Selection at Amazon to order now!





Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Philadelphia Harvest '08 With Greg Laurie


Big weekend coming up in Philadelphia. If you aren't in the area or can't make it, be sure to click on the links found here to watch the event live.

More than 350 area churches have invited Pastor Greg Laurie and the Harvest Crusades team to partner with them in an evangelistic outreach in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Harvest 08 will be held October 3–5 at 7:30 P.M. at the Wachovia Center. The event will feature some of the top names in contemporary Christian music, along with an evangelistic message from Pastor Greg.

For more than 18 years, Harvest Crusades has put on large-scale evangelistic outreaches around the United States and in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. More than 3.5 million people have attended a Harvest Crusades event in person, and more than 275,000 people have registered decisions of faith in Jesus Christ.

Harvest Crusades events are designed to be opportunities for Christians to invite unsaved family members, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to hear the life-changing message of the gospel in an environment that is entertaining, yet nonthreatening.

The cornerstone of each event is the presentation of the gospel by Pastor Greg Laurie. Biblically-sound and culturally relevant, Pastor Greg brings a clear gospel message, providing an opportunity for people to make a decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

See you there!

Philadelphia Harvest 08 with Greg Laurie



Our Security in God


Wanted to post a prayer from the Presidential Prayer Team, a ministry aimed at "mobilizing millions of Americans to pray for our President, our Leaders, our Nation, and our Armed Forces." - 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Be blessed...


September 29, 2008

Dear Friend,

Treasury Secretary Paulson has worked with President Bush, leaders in Congress, both presidential candidates and other advisors on a plan to rescue our failing economy. Congressional leaders toiled through the weekend creating a plan deemed acceptable by members on both sides of the aisle.

Today, the House of Representatives failed to pass that bill. Members from both parties pointed fingers as the stock market plunged. Commentators are saying that the economy is doomed and the next Great Depression is inevitable.

Interestingly, some pundits are saying that this crisis has but one source—greed! Greed is a spiritual problem, not an economic one. And a spiritual problem requires a spiritual answer.

In this time of unprecedented uncertainty, we need God’s intervention. We need His solution, and we need Him to reveal it in such a way that we know it’s Him—and only Him—acting on our behalf.

Please, join me in praying for God’s help in this potentially disastrous time in our nation’s history. Pray that God will guide the leaders into the solution He desires. Pray for wisdom for all involved—for Secretary Paulson, President Bush, Fed Chairman Bernanke, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader Boehner, House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank and others as they work together.

Thank you in advance for praying with us in this insecure time in our country. Together we place our security in God, and in His answers to our prayers. It will be exciting to see how He provides.

Prayerfully yours,
John Lind
President/CEO

P.S. Please help our country by forwarding this email to as many people as you can.

DIGG!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Help Doesn't Come From a $700 Billion Bailout


Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
- Psalms 124:8




Once in awhile we get that "ah-ha" moment when we realize that there absolutely was a reason for that pastor to have been hammering out a point in that sermon long ago or maybe not so long ago.

I had such a moment when I was reading through a couple Psalms the other night and got to the last verse in Psalms 124...Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

Oh, ya! My help doesn't come from a $700 billion bailout package! My help doesn't come from John McCain or Barack Obama (not even Sarah Palin)! My help doesn't come from the Republicans or the Democrats!

Then, when I was meditating on this verse some more, I remembered something else: God's word is comforting and healing. That's why it's important to have it ingrained in our hearts.

Now convicted, and recalling that I've often heard from pastors and Christians trying to embold others, I awakened again to the fact that memorizing scripture is important. Ah-hah, it certainly is!

Psalms 124

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,"
Let Israel now say,
"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul."
Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
_______________

Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times





Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paul Long: 'Be alert. Be watchful. Be ready.'


Associate pastor who died on Metrolink becomes the "object lesson" of Sunday message.

This from the Los Angeles Times:

A sermon on the lessons of Metrolink 111

Minister delivers message on life of fellow preacher who died after being injured in train crash.

For more than 13 hours, Pastor Tony Amatangelo had prayed and watched over his friend and fellow minister as he lay in a county hospital after being pulled from the wreckage of Metrolink 111. Paul Long died, and four hours later, physically and emotionally spent, Amatangelo returned to his Moorpark home.

Sunday service was coming. What would he say? The pastor felt chances were slim that the sermon he had written for the service would be relevant after the crash.

Then he remembered....


I wanted to do one pullout quote before you go to read the full story that I highly recommend.

"We didn't see it, but as those trains collided just on the Chatsworth and Simi Valley border, Pastor Paul saw the sign of the Son of Man," the pastor told a hushed church. "We looked at a body that was bloody and bruised. Pastor Paul saw glory. He would tell us to comfort yourself with this thought: 'It didn't look to me like it looked to you.' "


Full Story

Note: The head-on collision with a Union Pacific freight train on a bend in Los Angeles County's Chatsworth punched the Metrolink's locomotive right into the first car. At least 22 of the 24 passengers killed in the Sept. 12 crash -- the engineer also died -- were riding in that car, according to the coroner's office. LA Times crash victim story.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

His Open Door Policy


Now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near. - Ephesians 2:13

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, Volume 2:

AN OPEN DOOR

Nothing remains between you and God but an open door.

Something happened in the death of Christ that opened the door for you and me. And that something is described by the writer of Hebrews.

"So, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place without fear because of the blood of Jesus' death. We can enter through a new and living way that Jesus opened for us. It leads through the curtain–Christ's body" (Heb. 10:19-20).

To the original readers, those last four words were explosive: "the curtain–Christ's body." According to the writer, the curtain equals Jesus. Hence, whatever happened to the flesh of Jesus happened to the curtain. What happened to his flesh? It was torn. Torn by the whips, torn by the thorns. Torn by the weight of the cross and the point of the nails. But in the horror of his torn flesh, we find the splendor of the open door.

_______________


Reading a Max Lucado book is as comfortable as having coffee and conversation with a close friend. He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart is signature Lucado: warm, conversational storytelling blended with scripture, humor, and vulnerability. Lucado invites us to understand the symbols surrounding Christ's crucifixion and celebrate the significance of the promises they offer. From the sign in different languages tacked to the cross ("I will speak to you in your language") to the burial clothing ("I can turn your tragedy into triumph"), he speaks of each symbol as a "gift of grace" that reveals God's love for mankind... - Amazon


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving From Sunday-Only Christians


But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. - James 1:22(NKJ)

I've heard about a week of messages, starting last week, pertaining to this very topic...on my favorite radio station, KWVE, the message I heard on Sunday (Sept. 7) at Revival Fellowship, and friends and bloggers like Yvette... seemingly everywhere else I stop and listen!

This from Yvette Nietzen at Fresh Wind Ministries:

BE DOERS OF THE WORD

My husband was speaking to a friend of ours who went to do some work at a couple´s home. The worker commented that the couple did not portray their Christianity, and that he is routinely treated very poorly.

It is sad to say, but these stories are common today. We act like Christians on Sunday, and during the rest of the week we are someone completely different. We behave and say the right buzz words with our Christian friends, but then face the world and act like them during the week.

The word above says that we are to be doers of the word. In other words, be Christ-like in every area of our lives.

I am particular when it comes to treating people. We are all God´s creation, saved or unsaved, and when we interact with others we portray Christ in us. We portray Christ with our words and actions. We are Christ´s representatives on earth.

I would be saddened to hear of someone speaking about me, that person not having a clue that I have Jesus in my heart. I then began to think; If I was belittling a fellow Christian, don´t you think that the Lord would be saddened as well?

Let us learn to be doers of the word in all areas of our lives. Our speech, our manner of treating others, and our actions towards strangers. If we struggle, we have a helper with us that will teach us and guide us every step of the way.

_______________

Fresh Wind Ministries has been birthed with a passion to serve the Body of Christ. Our desire is to impart and teach the deeper things of God to the believer and to lead them onto a new path where they will rise up in the authority that the Lord has already given them.

Our goal is to reach the English speaking people living in Latin America, as well as other countries where the Lord leads. This way we can minister to them in their native language, and have them be refreshed by His Spirit. We believe the End Times Church will rise up in power and authority, and that signs and wonders will be manifest on the earth.

Fresh Wind Ministries believes that we will see a great outpouring of His Spirit upon the earth, and we wait and listen to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. - Fresh Wind Ministries



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God's Poetry: In Different Ways


We are his workmanship. - Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

I've been hearing an awful lot of "those other" Christian churches bashing. What a waste of time! Although it's important to stay sound in God's word, the Holy Spirit works in more ways than we can understand...so it's best to let God do His thing!

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment,Volume 2:

GOD'S POETRY

Scripture calls the church a poem. “We are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). Workmanship descends from the Greek word poeo or poetry. We are God’s poetry! What Longfellow did with pen and paper, our Maker does with us. We express his creativity best.

You aren’t God’s poetry. I’m not God’s poetry. We are God’s poetry. Poetry demands variety. “God works through different men in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all” (I Cor. 12:6 Phillips). God uses all types to type his message. Logical thinkers. Emotional worshipers. Dynamic leaders. Docile followers. The visionaries who lead, the studious who ponder, the generous who pay the bills...Alone, we are meaningless symbols on a page. But collectively, we inspire.

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Reading a Max Lucado book is as comfortable as having coffee and conversation with a close friend. He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart is signature Lucado: warm, conversational storytelling blended with scripture, humor, and vulnerability. Lucado invites us to understand the symbols surrounding Christ's crucifixion and celebrate the significance of the promises they offer. From the sign in different languages tacked to the cross ("I will speak to you in your language") to the burial clothing ("I can turn your tragedy into triumph"), he speaks of each symbol as a "gift of grace" that reveals God's love for mankind... - Amazon


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Heaven is a Lot Closer Now


After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. — Mark 16:12

Hope you were able to catch the Harvest event this past weekend. I felt that Greg Laurie gave some remarkably powerful messages. Laurie had lost his son, Christopher, only days before the evangelical outreach. His "Heaven is a lot closer now" statement will reverberate for a long time.

This from Greg Laurie's Daily Devotion:

WALKING WITH JESUS

I think it's interesting to note those to whom Jesus chose to appear after His resurrection. We don't read about Him appearing to Caiaphas or Caesar.

Now if it had been me, the first person I would have appeared to would have been Pilate: "Yo, Pilate! Remember me? Can't keep a good man down, can you?" Or I would have appeared to Caiaphas, the high priest who, for the most part, orchestrated the crucifixion.

But it is interesting how Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and joined them on their journey. We don't know who they were, and they are not mentioned again in the Bible.

The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared in another form to them as they went into the country. In other words, He was going incognito. They didn't know that it was Jesus.

The last sight they had of the Lord was His beaten and bloodied body. Surely they wanted to get that image out of their minds.

There they were, walking along, and Jesus was walking with them. It's a reminder to us that at all times, even when we don't realize it, Jesus is walking with us.

Isaiah 43:2 promises, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you."

Maybe when you are in church, you feel close to God. But wherever you go, you can know that Jesus is with you there too. When you are going through hard times, even when you cannot feel Him, Jesus is there.
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Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Fellowship Church in Riverside and founder of the Harvest Crusades, recently released Lost Boy: My Story. Anyone interested in not only how Laurie came to be one of the most prolific evangelicals of our time, but a peak at how Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith's preaching affected many during the "Jesus movement," will want to read this book.
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Living For Personal Gain


"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be." - Matthew 6:19-21

You can be stopped at an intersection anywhere in the OC (Orange County, Calif.), waiting for a green light, and see three Mercedes Benz, two BMWs, and a Hummer stopped at that same red light. In the OC, where I live, it's hard not to covet!

Yet, there are often times I think, I would not trade in a million years what I have in the way of my relationship with Christ for that Hummer or any other expensive car. I'll go on driving my 1999 Chrysler Concord, asking for God's will in everything I do.

"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
Matthew 6:22-24

Lately, I'm finding it more and more important to check my motives. Am I making a decision based on what God wants for me, or am I deciding while keeping only my own desires in mind?

This isn't a one-time struggle. Daily, we must surrender and do God's will not our own. Dangling ourselves out into this world on our own power may seem to work, but it's short-lived at best.

"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

"And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!

"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
- Matthew 6:25-34

Here's the Reflections part of the Life Recovery Bible in regards to these verses:

In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus made it clear that living for personal gain will only lead to great anxiety. Materialism and anxiety are two enemies of recovery. They often work together to lead us away from a balanced life. We need to realize that the essence of life is not found in the possession of things and that worry about the future availability of material things is never helpful. We are powerless to change the future and must trust God to take care of us and empower us in recovery. As we entrust our life to him, we will no longer need to worry about what is around the corner.


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Read notes on bible verses as they pertain to recovery from our hurts, hangups, and addictions in the Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation. Also, read 12-Step and Serenity Prayer devotionals with scripture references. Get a copy now!

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Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

For Such a Time as This...


Just a couple of quick notes. If you did not get a chance to listen to Greg Laurie talk at Harvest Christian Fellowship's service Sunday, you can do so by going to Harvest.org and clicking on the "I Still Believe" screen at the top. You can also view the video below.

I Still Believe



Although Laurie only spoke briefly before Sunday's message, it came only a few days after the tragic death of his son, Christoper Laurie.

Also, now more than ever, it's a good time for prayer in regards to the upcoming Harvest event in Anaheim, California. Laurie is the founder of the Harvest, which has impacted many for Christ. Since 1990, more than 3.6 million people have attended a Harvest Crusades event in person, and more than 290,000 have registered their decisions of faith in Jesus Christ.

For such a time as this...

Southern California Harvest 08 with Greg Laurie



Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lord, if...


"Lord, if you had been here . . . "

It's still hard to put into words what transpired this week for the Greg Laurie family, including of course, his daughter-in-law Brittany Laurie. This weekend's Harvest Devotion comes at an especially somber time.

This from John Collins, who is Administrative Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship:

"Lord, if you had been here . . . "

These are the words of Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus in John 11.

There, at that moment in time, when death was cruel and vile and heartless, they stood before what seemed an unbreakable valley of darkness. They wrestled with grief, and the grief was unbearable and unbeatable because grief can never be beaten, only experienced.

And so when Jesus came to them, they said it, "Lord, if . . . "

They both said it, at different times, but to His face. We get the sense that they most likely had said it among themselves, too.

"Lord, if . . . if you had only done this or that . . . "

It is the perfectly human response of a heart that is broken because hopes have been dashed and their world shattered. Someone they loved has been taken away. Life as they knew it was now different. They stood on the cliff of that dark valley and peered into the blackness and thought, "Lord, if . . . "

This morning, as I write this, my pastor and his wife stand on that cliff. They are suffering the loss of their eldest son, who was taken from this earth quickly and tragically Thursday. They are battling the unmerciful giant called grief and, like Mary and Martha and every human soul who has waged that battle, they are losing.

It is painful to watch for the end is not near, and with every merciless blow they cry out, "Lord, if . . . "

I have been in that ring before, but only as a young man of 16. My father had died of cancer. The last night of his life, I left the hospital with the words, "I'll be back to watch the World Series game with you tomorrow."

There was no tomorrow. I had missed those precious last hours with him. And I grieved, "Lord, if I had only stayed with him . . . "

"Lord, if . . . " is the cry of every forsaken moment, every unsaid word, every failure to perfectly love the ones we love and now can only remember.

"Lord, if . . . " is how we ask God, "Why?", when we know He won't answer, when we are unsatisfied and frustrated by "seeing through a glass darkly."

"Lord, if . . . " echoes in the darkness and, like all echoes, it returns with no answer. The price of life and love is death and separation. As C.S. Lewis once said, "That's part of the deal."

So where is Jesus? We ask, "Lord, if I must drink this cup of grief, where are you?" To that, we have an answer in Psalms 139:8–12:

"If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to you." (NLT)


For Mary and Martha, the darkness and grief for Lazarus was temporary. Jesus allowed it so that His power over death could be made known at the resurrection of Lazarus.

Jesus was there, orchestrating His plan. Out of the darkness of that tomb came a foreshadowing of his own resurrection, which would give light and hope to all the world now that death was defeated.

Where was Jesus? He was there in the darkness of that tomb. And before raising Lazarus, He was with Mary and Martha, weeping with them!

Where is Jesus? He is forever in the midst of our darkness, in the black caverns of our life. He sees the grieving widow. He sees the grieving father and mother. He sees our pastor and his wife and He visits them in their grief. He knows the pain of the journey.

Isaiah said, "He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3 NKJV). It is comforting to know that our sorrows are His sorrows and that He knows the aching sense of loss and grief. God never promised to remove our grief, only to give it purpose.

Mary and Martha were united with Jesus in sadness, the grief of loss. And Jesus entered into that grief.

How sweet and comforting to know our God is with us in our moments of desperation. He is the King who bears the full, blunt force of our "Lord, ifs . . . " and then sits next to us with a loving arm around our shoulder and weeps.

It is in these moments with Jesus that we come to know that the darkness only hides His face. One day, when the darkness is gone, His face will be the light of heaven.

My heart breaks for Greg and Cathe. I have come to know Jesus through Greg's faithful teaching of the Word of God. I watch and wince at every blow of grief, but I am confident there are blessings in the buffeting and grateful that Jesus is with them.

Source: Harvest Online Daily Devotions

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Related: Nobody's Exempt



Friday, July 25, 2008

Nobody's Exempt


I call him the everyman's preacher. Evangelical leader Greg Laurie, founder of what's come to be known as Harvest Ministries, talks simple, talks direct, and knows today's world pulse as good as anyone.

Listening to a message or sermon from Laurie often helps answer a lot of questions about life and death. He has put forth major effort in comforting those who ask, "Why does God allow tragedy?" and "Why does God allow evil?"

Yesterday, Laurie faced tragedy of the most horrific kind.

This from Harvest Online:

Christopher Laurie, son of Pastor Greg Laurie and Cathe Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, died this morning in a car accident in Riverside. A resident of Huntington Beach, Laurie, 33, served as the art director at Harvest Christian Fellowship for the past three years.

In addition to his parents, Christopher is survived by his wife, Brittany, and daughter, Stella, as well as his brother Jonathan. Christopher and his wife are expecting another daughter in November.

Memorial plans for Christopher are pending. More information will be posted to the Harvest website as details become available.


A man who has comforted millions with the words of hope in Jesus, now faces asking the same questions again for himself. As I read from Matthew last night, knowing the tragedy that happened earlier in the day I realized again that nobody's exempt, nobody's immune from these things called life and death.

However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn't realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
- Matthew 24:36-39

Once again, I was reading from my Life Recovery Bible. The note from these verses was this:

Jesus did not tell us when the final redemption of this evil world will come. In the same way, we may not know when our personal recovery is to be complete. All of us are still recovering, one day at a time. None of us have arrived. Not until Christ's second coming will we be relieved of daily working, watching, and recovering.

None of us have arrived. We will never have "arrived" so much as to be immune to tragedy. Not even the greatest of men, like Greg Laurie.

Let's pray for all those in Christopher Laurie's family. As for Christopher, his work here is done...and he must be relieved!

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Harvest.org

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Did Jesus Say About Religion?


A discussion thread titled Religion vs. Spirituality over at social networking site BlogCatalog prompted me to search the Bible...and that's always a good thing!

The author of the thread added this under his subject head: Some folks cleave to Religion. Some to Spirituality. Some say it's either/or. Some embrace both. How 'bout you?

Here's how I responded:

I'd like to answer this question with some scripture. But, first let me say "religion" has caused a lot of damage. However, "faith" or one's spirituality based on seeking truth can do more good than we can even understand sometimes. It's also important to recognize that the pursuit of truth, doesn't mean pursuing relative truth, or the truth as you know it now, but real truth.

What does the Bible say about "religion"?

Here is Jesus talking to his disciples and a crowd that gathered around Him:

"Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven." (Matthew 23:9)

And a moment later He says:

"I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either. You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned." (Matthew 23:13-15)

These verses are from "The Message" Bible version. I think it pretty much sums up the "importance" of religion. I'm sure that if I did some more searching, or if any of you who already know some of Jesus' own words would point out to me, there are other references to how Jesus felt about religion.

So, what do I embrace? More accurately who do I embrace? In my case, and I know many others, I "cleave" as best as I can to Jesus, not religion.

How 'bout you?

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Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report and TheBigRuski Goes Healthy.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hurting Lives Restored


This morning I woke up with a burning desire to share about the Life Recovery Bible. I was early in my walk with the Lord and a couple years fresh into sobriety when I picked up a copy of this New Living Translation bible with a recovery focus.

Life recovery? What does that mean? I asked myself a few of those kind of questions before cracking open the book. What I found was astounding.

God didn't leave them to figure out a plan for recovery all alone; nor did he leave a long list of principles or rules to follow that would repair their damaged relationships. Instead, God always worked with people on a very personal level in the recovery process. - Recovery Themes, Genesis


I was awakened to some remarkable things. Mainly, that I was on the right path. My decision to turn my life and my will over to Christ was confirmed, blessed, and exciting! I had just discovered the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous powered-up times 1,000 I reasoned.

That discovery was about eight years ago. These days, I read from a couple different bibles, but a few weeks ago I began reading from my well-worn Life Recovery Bible again...and again, I am eternally blessed.

Here's parts of the preface:

The bible is the greatest book on recovery ever written. In its pages we see God set out a plan for the recovery of his broken people and creation. We meet numerous individuals whose hurting lives are restored through the wisdom and power of God. We meet the God who is waiting with arms outstretched for all of us to turn back to him, seek after his will, and recover the wonderful life he has for each of us.

Many of us are just waking up to the fact that recovery is an essential part of life for everyone. It is the simple but challenging process of daily seeking God's will for our life instead of demanding to go our own way. Recovery is letting God do for us what we cannot do for ourself while also taking the steps necessary to draw closer to our Creator and Redeemer. It is allowing God to heal our wounded soul so we can help others in the process of healing. All of us need to take part in this process; it is an inherent part of being human...

...Without God there is no recovery, only disappointing substitutions and repeated failure.


I pray that all of us get to better understand who God is and how he wants to heal our brokenness and set us on the path toward wholeness.

Amen?

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Read notes on bible verses as they pertain to recovery from our hurts, hangups, and addictions in the Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation. Also, read 12-Step and Serenity Prayer devotionals with scripture references. Get a copy now!

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Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

True Happiness


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. - Matthew 5:6

Parts of this last week made me unhappy. My health was not the best and my work suffered as well. However, once again, God has shown his wisdom and strength. In the midst of my pity party, my conviction to give up my hurts and hangups to God is stronger than ever. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

They say pain is the touchstone to spiritual growth. I can vouch for that!

This from Billy Graham's Hope for Each Day:

A Thirst for Righteousness

God is the only source of true happiness, because He offers those intangibles that we mistakenly believe can be found on earth: contentment, security, peace, and hope for the future. None of these can be found in a job, a human relationship, money, power, or position. They are God's alone to give.

How hard it is for us to believe this, however! This is understandable if we haven't given our lives to Christ; then, the Bible says, our spiritual "eyes" are still blinded, unable to see God's truth until the Holy Spirit opens them. But it can happen to us as believers also - falling into the pattern of the world, vainly pursuing happiness in the same ways the world does.

That is why the Lord Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, told where ultimate happiness lies: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." This is God's promise--and it is true.

Riches...or righteousness? Which will be your goal?

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In 'Hope for Each Day,' Billy Graham offers spiritual comfort to guide us through our daily lives. Graham is considered a national treasure and has counseled numerous political leaders and provided comfort in times of public crisis.




Friday, July 4, 2008

The Greatest Freedom


The disciples were astounded. "Then who in the world can be saved?" they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." - Matthew 19:25,26

I love America. I love the freedom we are offered here. However, where does my greatest freedom come from?

It comes from my relationship with the Lord.

Because of His grace, I'm not in bondage to so many problems...big and small. And if I find myself caught in sin, I can give it up to Him. I surrender not to the sin, but to the One who died for our sins.

Is it always easy? No. We live in a fallen world with plenty of temptations. Our fleshly desires can be, at times, a seemingly constant battle. But there is one who can save you now!

The Life Recovery Bible's note on the above verses is this:

These verses are true not only for salvation but also recovery. Left on our own, we would fall deeper into the pit of our addiction, never gaining control over it. But with God's help, the inconceivable is possible. He can turn our life around, bringing hope and health where once despair and pain had reigned. Giving God control of our life is the only way to regain independence from our addiction and other compulsive behaviors.

Have a happy Independence Day!
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Parts of this devotion were taken from the Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation. When I was first reading this version of the Bible with notes it was a total awakening. I view this Bible as the power of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous mulitplied by 1,000! Get a copy now!

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Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Do You Have a Safety Net?


Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. - 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

This from Rick Warren's book, Purpose Driven Life:

We Need Each Other: To Wait and Weep With

As a pastor, I see situations daily that nobody should ever have to go through alone. Nobody should ever have to wait in the hospital while a loved one is in life-or-death surgery. No woman should ever have to wait alone for the lab report on a problem pregnancy. Nobody should ever have to wait for news from a battlefield alone. Nobody should ever have to stand at the edge of an open grave alone. Nobody should ever have to spend the first night alone when their spouse has just walked out.

Life’s tough times and tragedies are inevitable – each of us will face them. But we don’t need to go through them alone. We need God’s safety net to help hold us up through these difficult times.

What is God’s safety net? It is a group of other believers – a handful of people who are really committed to you. We call this kind of group a community. Here’s God’s plan for community: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV). Community is God’s answer to despair.

Romans 12:15 expresses a similar idea: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (NIV).

The first part of that verse is easy. When something good happens to someone, it’s often easy to join in on the party.

But when someone is having a tough time, it can seem more difficult. But, really, it’s simple. When you’re going through a crisis, you don’t want advice; you just want somebody to be there – to sit with you, hold your hand, put an arm around your shoulder, or cry with you.

As Paul tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Encouraging someone else doesn’t always mean giving a pep talk or words of wisdom. Sometimes the best kind of encouragement is just sitting in silence – waiting and weeping with a friend.

Do you have a safety net – a group of fellow Christians you know you can count on in life’s toughest times? If not, go out today and begin building those friendships. The hard times in life are inevitable, and only a fool would go into them unprepared.
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Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Personal God of Wonders


The more I lean into God the better off I am. How can we not lean into Him when we think about His wonders? He has transformed so many lives, including my own. I am forever grateful and it is my prayer that I worship Him abundantly. May that be your prayer as well!




Third Day's music has ministered to me in a big way. If you like gospel with a powerful classic rock (not hard rock) sound, Third Day may be for you. God of Wonders can be found on the Offerings II: All I Have to Give available at Amazon.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Delayed Gratification


Some of us may be addicted to pleasure. We want the easy way out...the less painful...the less work...the most fun. Let's face it, some of us are pleasure junkies. We may have even kicked our serious addictions, such as alcohol or drugs, but we still seek pleasure at an unhealthy rate. It could be food, sex, TV, gambling...even laying on the couch too much...but we are still seeking escape.

So, what do we do to lead a life of fulfillment, even when we seem to never be satisfied? How do we accept a life that can't always be about pleasure?

The apostle Paul said, "So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time" - Galatians 6:9. Weeds (of pleasure) spring up quickly. Good crops (from hard work) grow more slowly and must be tended steadily, even before we can see anything sprout. It's only in time that we will enjoy the fruit.

Jesus suggested that we expand our perspective even further, with a view toward eternity. "Jesus said to the disciples, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?'" - Matthew 16:24-26.

It is God's will for us to have a rewarding and fulfilled life. It may be easier to live a productive life if we remember that denying ourself immediate pleasures will bring a harvest of rich rewards in this life and in the life to come!

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Parts of this devotion were taken from the Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation. When I was first reading this version of the Bible with notes it was a total awakening. I view this Bible as the power of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous mulitplied by 1,000! Get a copy now!

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Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Rev T Asks: Dead or Alive?


To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. - Revelation 3:1-6

GUEST BLOGGER
This from Rev. T at The New Covenant:

It is interesting to note that the problem that Sardis had to overcome was one of being a dead church. Notice that Christ says that they have the reputation of being alive, but they are dead. Sardis was a very well known, and prosperous city. The Church had a good reputation; they were doing works that Christ points out as not complete. Great at the start, but no follow through.

The problem that had to be overcome is that they were Christians in name only. They were going through the motions, but not working with the Holy Spirit, they were not letting Christ lead the church. As we look around today, do we not see the same things happening? We see dead churches, led by dead pastors, full of dead church members. A church quits living when it starts paying more attention to the world around them, than to their salvation. A pastor, or leader of a church becomes dead when he forgets that the Holy Spirit is the one that directs him and leads the service; he starts to believe that people are showing up because of him, not the Lord. Or when he becomes more concerned with how much money is in the plate, and not the condition of his congregation’s souls.

The worst death in my opinion is the death of the members. When the church becomes a place for the latest fashion show, or the gathering place for the gossip workshop, that is when the members start to experience spiritual death. It is up to each and every member to look after the health of the church. We have to remember that each one of us makes up the church, so the best place to start for a healthy church is within each of us. As this scripture shows a church can be healed, but the members and leaders must wake up! People live life on “auto pilot” every day. However our spiritual journey has no auto pilot switch. We are in control of how high we will fly, or the level we will descend. There is nothing in life that we cannot overcome with Christ; we all can wear robes of white. We just have to make sure we stay awake, and spiritually alive.

Peace,
Rev. T

The plan is to take a daily scripture passage, and put it in to a current perspective. I will keep it as plain and simple as possible. Man has done a wonderful job of making religion far more complicated than it should be. We get so lost in what we want it to mean, we overrun the message. - Rev. T, The New Covenant


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Until Love is Stirred


Interestingly enough, about a half hour ago, my girlfriend and I decided to start a relationship fast. It's not a decision that just sprouted up, but we were not sure of the timing up until now. We are doing it to make sure we are in God's will. We've been dating for awhile now and it seems like its close to decision time...that time to decide whether marriage is the next step.

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, Volume 2:

GOD IS ENOUGH

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you...My soul will be satisfied with the richest of foods. - Psalm 63:3, 5 NIV

When it comes to love: Be careful.

Before you walk down the aisle, take a good long look around. Make sure this is God’s intended place for you. And, if you suspect it isn’t, get out. Don’t force what is wrong to be right...Be careful.

And, until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. Alone with God. And, as David discovered, God was enough. David wrote these words in the desert: "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you...My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods."

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God loves you. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately. Others have promised and failed. But God has promised and succeeded. He loves you with an unfailing love. And His love--if you will let it--can fill you and leave you with a love worth giving. Best-selling author Max Lucado has successfully pricked the hearts and minds of readers for decades. Now, he boldly says that before we can pass love on, we must receive it ourselves--from God. Pointing out that we must "love one another," Lucado issues an impassioned plea to accept God's love in order to truly, unselfishly, wholeheartedly love another. God wants us to drink deeply of His love, soak it up, and marvel at its depth. A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God's Love is available at Amazon.