Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joy to the World! (Bonus video w/Third Day)

He has come!

Joy to the World--the LORD has come!

Jesus came on that night, and He's changed the world ever since.

"Let Earth receive her King".

He continues to change those who are open to Him.

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

Will you?

What is the BEST way to celebrate Jesus' birth?

By opening our hearts to Him.

May your Christmas--and your life--be blessed with "Joy" today!

Blessed Christmas,


Friday, December 24, 2010

O Come, O Come Immanuel

The hope of Israel is the hope of the World!

It was promised centuries before, from the prophet Isaiah, and fulfilled in Jesus' birth!

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23)

We believe that HE has come--Immanuel: God with us.

Our God is with us! If we turn our lives to Him in faith and obedience, He WILL save us. He WILL deliver us!

As you wind your Christmas eve down, take a few minutes to watch this beautiful depiction of this wonderful song, by Selah.

Blessed Christmas!


Mary's experience (Bonus video: Amy Grant: Breath of Heaven)

What would it have been like to be Mary?

Teenager. Committed to marry a good man (Joseph), but now carrying the Son of God, by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit!

She would sacrifice reputation, annonymity, the 'traditional' way of marriage and family she had looked forward to...she would be alone, in many ways...yet she was willing.

When the angel came to her and told her what was going on, what was her response?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her." (Luke 1:38)

Pretty incredible! The maturity, the spiritual strength, the willingness to follow--despite personal sacrifice...pretty incredible!

Yet, after she said 'yes', for the next 9 months, realizing that the Son of God was growing in her...and on that 1st Christmas night, giving birth to Him...her Lord, her Savior, her GOD--that must have been overwhelming and surreal!

Mary fades from most public writings after that..showing up occasionally, but she had done her main role. She had given birth to the Savior of the World! Now she would raise him with Joseph, and then let Him go.

All the while, she would 'treasured up' what happened and "pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19)

My head swims when I try to imagine what it would have been like to be present on that most amazing night in history...but when I consider what it would have been like to be Mary or Joseph...overwhelming!

May I someday grow up in my faith to respond to God like she did: Despite every cost you're asking me to pay, God: 'I am the Lord's servant'.

This Christmas, don't lose the realness of it. Take a moment to consider Mary's story...then watch this video.

Blessed Christmas,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Angels We Have Heard.. (Bonus: Third Day in concert!)

In the midst of the madness, I find myself almost fighting to get back to the simplicity of the Christmas narrative, found in the gospels.

The simplicity of God's love, which compelled Him to send His son.

The simplicity of Mary and Joseph's profound faith...and their willingness to say 'yes' to God, despite great personal sacrifice.

The simplicity of the manger--no headlines, no world leaders to welcome Him...just a smelly, lonely manger and animals to welcome the Son of God to this world.

The simplicity of the shepherds...outcasts, loners, nothing special...

YET, the angels appeared to THEM!

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (Luke 2:8-18)

Angels announced the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of shepherds.

Simple. Un-fancy. Profound.

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo"--"Glory to God in the Highest", and Peace to His people on earth.

Christmas--the birth of the baby...the entrance of God's Son, was to bring God glory and Peace to those who would believe--the shepherds first, but others too--leading all the way up to US!

This Christmas, clear out the clutter. Take some time to get back to the simple message of Jesus' birth.

Listen, sing along, and respond, as Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds did--respond in FAITH!

Blessed Christmas,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Baby Changes EVERYTHING!

The Baby Jesus...the Christ Child. We love this story.

It's nice that this baby was born, cattle were lowing, sheep were keeping Him warm...but the reality behind it was much more than a story, and THIS baby changed EVERYTHING--whether we're aware of it or not!

THIS baby was Lord of Creation, yet He became part of creation.
THIS baby was King of the world, yet He became subject to his parents.
THIS baby was Sovereign God, yet He subjected Himself to our limitations.


Because by THIS baby's life--and death--He would open up forgiveness to us. He would offer us new life--eternal life, and life 'to the full', here and now.

THIS baby changed EVERYTHING that day.

Have you let Him change YOU?

Blessed Christmas,



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cutting through the clutter

We talk about it every year...How we want to "Remember the real reason for the season", and how we want to "Keep Christ in Christmas".

Yet, I don't know about you, but I can honestly say that, for me, it's still a challenge.

It almost seems like everything in our culture conspires against that very thing. Our festivities, our expectations, our 'obligations'.

Yesterday, I was able to go shopping with my favorite person of all (my lovely wife), and then to go out shopping with our kids last night. While we got lots done, I can't honestly say we kept 'the Christmas spirit' while doing so.

I know I'm not alone in this.

Many of us struggle in this way.

Maybe it's unreasonable expectations...

I remember the "Norman Rockwell" book my dad had when I was growing always seemed like the people in the pictures were either having fun, being silly, or laughing. Some of the 'serious' pictures were serene, beautiful, peaceful.

Yeah..that sometimes doesn't jibe with my reality.

Don't get me wrong--we have genuinely good times, we enjoy each other, and have good memories--but my point is that, even in a family who makes it a point of emphasis to "Keep the real meaning of Christmas", it's easy to lose's easy for the values, pressures, and cares of this world to push their way in and for the love, peace, grace, and beauty of Jesus coming into this world gets pushed out.

Even if for a brief time.

So, what are we to do about it?

Keep re-focusing. Keep being gracious...keep forgiving...keep loving.

Ask God to forgive you for missing it, forgive each other for losing it, and center yourself again around the reality of Jesus.

Maybe it means less emphasis (again) on gifts and traditions, more emphasis on worship, prayer, and the Word of God. Not entirely surprising, not really anything 'new'...but important to keep in mind, anyway.

Blessed Christmas,


Friday, December 17, 2010

Magical Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve...I look forward to it. Always have.

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve meant excitement, anticipation, cookies and milk for Santa, hanging the stockings...and trying to get to sleep!

There was always that 'deeper magic', though--that sense that, when I looked up and saw a really bright star in the sky, it might have been something like they saw on the night Jesus was born. This was the deeper mystery...and it touched my heart in a deeper place.

Today, Christmas Eve is still special...but for different reasons. There are new traditions--new pajamas, KCC's Christmas Eve service, Lori's special recipe cocoa and cookies. The 'deeper magic' is even more real, though--cuz now I understand it!

" angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife...And Joseph named him Jesus.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,and we have come to worship him.” (Matthew 1:21--2:2)

The mystery and magic of that night make Christmas Eve very special. Sometimes children know it's magical, but they don't yet know why. My hope and prayer is that, in the same way that their hearts are 'strangely stirred' on Christmas the same way that mine was as a kid, their hearts will want to know more--about the REAL source of the 'magic'.

This Christmastime, may all of our responses be like those of the magi--we have come to worship Him!

Blessed Christmas,


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where Are You, Christmas?

If you've seen "The Grinch", you know this gets in your head, and just stays there!

I love this song--partly because it's Faith Hill (who is great), but partly because this song touches a place in my heart that longs for a simpler time...a time in which Christmas was 'magical'.

Why is it that we can 'miss' Christmas so easily--that the tug of consumerism and chaos seems to sidetrack us so quickly that, despite our best intentions, Christmas comes and goes and we realize that we've 'missed it' again.

More accurately, we've missed "HIM" again.

Christmas is, of course, the day we celebrate Jesus' birth. His Incarnation. God becoming flesh--Emmanuel, "God With Us".

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:22-23)

The song asks the question, "Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you?"...and I think I know the answer! We 'can't find' Christmas because we're looking in the wrong place.

The Grinch realizes this too--when he says (very well done by Jim Carrey, I might add) "Maybe Christmas doesn't...come from a store! Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

When he realizes this, his heart changes...and ours can too!

This Christmas, spend more time contemplating the love of God, which caused Him to send Jesus to Earth. Spend less time worrying about what to buy whom, and what you'll get from whom, and more time worshipping at the manger!

Jesus--the Savior, the Messiah--came into the world to show the love and grace of God in every way possible. THAT is "Christmas", and THAT is where we will "find" it.

May He be real in YOUR life today.

Blessed Christmas,


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World!

Few songs capture the celebration of the Messiah's birth like this classic carol.

This song almost can't contain itself!

The writer (Isaac Watts) was a young man--a teenager--who just could not get over the fact that Jesus--the Savior--had come into the world, and now 'reigns' over the universe, and over our hearts.

Why "Joy"?

...because, as the Angels said, He had come to bring

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

HOW does He bring peace to us?

By paying the penalty for our sin, thus enabling the Father to forgive us, wipe our slate clean, and start working on us from within, conforming us more and more to His image, His will.

This represents Freedom! It represents Liberation!

No longer would mankind be a slave to sin. Now, because 'the Savior Reigns', we can know true holiness and righteousness. Now we have the power--through our relationship with Jesus Christ--to overcome sin! Now we have the opportunity to live our lives the way they were meant to be lived--in God's will!

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." (Romans 8:1-2)

You are free!

Through Christ, you can live that new life!

Joy to the World!

Blessed Christmas,


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Preparations--It's a WONDERFUL Life!

Ah, Christmas!

It's no secret: I LOVE this season!

The movies, the decorations, the songs...SO cool!

The most important thing, of course, is the story of Jesus' birth! Those who were able to attend "The Baby Changes Everything", KCC's Christmas program last weekend, know this...and we'll certainly talk about it over the next couple of weeks!

One of the movies I wanted to start these "Christmas Preparations" with was "It's a Wonderful Life", however. Not on overtly "Christian" movie (in fact, the theology is pretty rediculous), but it's a movie worth noting anyway...because it is too easy to forget the truth of the movie's title in this season of 'plenty'.

We are so surrounded with the message which says, in essence, that "If you love someone, you'll buy them lots of stuff", that it can positively depress those of us who can't buy much--or anything! If we're not careful, the 'spirit of this world', can blind us to the truth: That the value of a man's life lies in his relationship with those outside of himself--God, his family, and his friends.

Not only that, but this movie reminds us that it is in loving others--investing ourselves in them--that we make real 'investments' that will last. With every selfless act, we're putting a 'deposit' in the bank of humanity and relationships--and that's a good thing!

This movie also reminds us that the people who are TRULY 'rich' in this world are not those who have 'stuff', but those who have friends!

So, this Christmas season, don't get sucked into the "buy more stuff" mindset...instead rededicate yourself to investing in your relationships!

In this way, you--and those around you--will be blessed!

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

Blessed Christmas,


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks--even for the Lions!

If you gave a gift to me, how would you feel if I thanked everyone in the room...except you?

We hear a lot about being thankful at this time of year.

Today is one of the few days when the entire country is 'on the same page' and giving thanks for something. Some are thankful for family, some are thankful for jobs, some for health, houses, some for turkey...even the Detroit Lions on t.v.!

Question: Who are we thankful to?

Is it simply some impersonal 'force', or 'fate' which has put you here at this time, in this place?

I don't think so.

I am convinced it is the hand of Almighty God who has blessed us with all these blessings, even if we haven't acknowledged Him in any way.

"Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:16-17)

In fact, in back in 1789, President George Washington's first Thanksgiving address, he said this:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be..." (The entire Proclamation can be found at the link:

The point is that we should be thankful to a specific Being-Almighty God!

It is He who gives us everything from air, water and food to family, freedom, and fun times! Even football (yes, even the Lions on Thanksgiving day) is part of the blessing of Almighty God!

Psalm 100 says it this way:

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

Today, be thankful...enjoy family, friends, and football.

Just remember to give thanks to a Almighty God, as the One who is the source of your blessings...and tomorrow, when you move on to Christmas Prep, ask Him to be a bigger part of your life--not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Good Example (Revelation 3:7-12) in Philadelphia?

Here's a total NON-news flash: The world is full of bad examples.

Bad examples from Hollywood...from Washington...from Lansing...and even from Kalamazoo.

Even in the Church--the worldwide family of those who believe in and follow (at least, theoretically) Jesus Christ.

Bad examples are where are the GOOD examples?

In this 6th letter to the churches in the book of Revelation, there's one. This letter is to the church in Philadelphia (In the Ancient near east--not the one in PA)!

So many churches had been confronted in these chapters...over things like comprimise, tolerating sin and evil within, inconsistency in commitment, and the desire to 'fit in' with this world...that it's refreshing to hear of a good example!

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth." (Revelation 3:7-10)

There are a lot of important points in there (best reserved for more in-depth Bible study), but the important overall point is that this church, which was apparently relatively small, had power--Power to stand firm. Power to NOT compromise. Power to remain firmly committed to the Word of God--to GOD'S standards and teachings--not this world's!

This church had endured persecution, and was remaining true and loyal. They had not 'denied [the name of Jesus]', but had kept worshipping and following Him. This meant more than simply resisting the pressure to recant their Christian testimony--it meant being faithful to Jesus in every way!

It's not just about what we don't do that God is interested's about what we DO do! It's about how we live our faith out...not only the things we avoid, that matter.

Jesus promised to rescue them from the trial which would come upon the world (the rapture?...unclear in my mind), but again the point is that BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN FAITHFUL, He promised to deliver them.

So, what's this mean to us?

If you're a believer, it should be an encouragement to you! Jesus sees our deeds! He knows when we remian faithful, despite pressure to 'cave' and outright opposition to our faith--or to key elements of it! He will give us the power--even in small congregations, and even as individuals--to overcome...and He will give us a permanent and secure place in His Kingdom.

This should also be a reminder to remain faithful! Despite opposition, despite pressure, despite all those who say that following God's word is ...old, antiquated, out of date, irrelevant, ignorant,...or whatever else, that we remain faithful!

God sees you! He knows! He WILL deliver you and give you peace!

Onward to Victory!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The "Next Level"

We hear it all the time--that someone has to 'take it to the next level'.

An athlete needs to take his play 'to the next level' if he's going to be great...a student needs to take her studies 'to the next level' if she's really going to excel...

...So what does it mean to take our Spiritual Lives 'to the next level'?

For me, it has to do a lot with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit "is with you, and will be in you" (John 14:17). I believe that this was fulfilled at Pentecost, and has been fulfilled from that day forward for every believer (Paul says that we are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4), and that our bodies are "temples" of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6).)

Clearly, the Holy Spirit IS in the life of the believer in why do we often live as if He's not?

For me, God has been showing me that I've been trying to do the impossible: I've been trying to live my life in a Spiritual way, by depending on my own strength. I've been trying to do what only God's Holy Spirit can do! I've been trying to accomplish something through my 'flesh' that can only be accomplished by yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Remember that Paul said that "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In other words, it is God's Spirit who works in us to accomplish this change--to bring us to "the Next Level".

As for me, I want to cooperate with Him more. I want to be more sensitive to His leading. I want to sense His work within me more--changing me 'from glory to glory' (as one version puts the above). I want His power at work in my life, and I want Him--not me--to get the glory for it.

What does that look like for you?

Is it more passion in your relationship to God? Is it more willingness to obey? More commitment to His Word? A yielded heart and mind? A willingness to 'live by faith' and DO 'that thing' He's been leading you to?

Stop yourself long enough to answer this question: "If God, through the Holy Spirit, wanted to take YOU to the next level, what would it be?"

What does He want to accomplish in you?

May God continue to take each of our faith "to the Next Level"!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red vs. Blue: Where do we go from here?

So, the Republicans won the House. The Democrats still run the Senate, and President Obama is still in the White where do we go from here?

Note: I am NOT talking about political strategy!

Some of you know my political leanings--I am conservative and I often vote Republican...but, at least for today, I'm not thinking about votes, office, campaigns, etc.

I am reminded (actually, it's happened a lot lately) that I am a Christian 1st, an American 2nd. What I mean by that is that I need to keep my allegiances and attention in the 'right' order. In my opinion, it is MUCH more important how I follow Christ than it is how I follow a politician--no matter who it is!

A politician, at best, can bring about his plans. They may be important, but they pale in comparison to the Lord's plans!

"The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance." (Psalm 33:10-12)

I want to be sure to keep clear in my own mind: The LORD is God--the LORD is sovereign! The LORD directs me, directs His Church, and directs the plans of this world!

I speak to myself as much as I do to anyone else: Don't let yourself get too caught up in the political tug-of-war that happens. While not unimportant, these things are NOT eternal! Only the Kingdom of God is!

"For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior." (Philippians 3:18-20)

I know you're an American, and part of taking that seriously is to be informed, be involved, and vote...just don't lose sight of the fact that, IF you are a Christian, you live on a much different level. Your primary identity is "Christian"!

Let us do everything we can to Live like it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wake Up! (Revelation 3:1-6)

Ah, sleep!
Most of us wish we could have more...we spend hundreds of dollars on new mattresses, we go to great lengths to make sure our bedrooms have the 'right' 'feng shui', so as to be relaxing, etc.

...but most of us are still wishing for more sleep.

There is one place where some of us have been sleeping too much, though: Church!

I don't just mean snoozing because some Pastor is droning on and on about Greek language...I mean "Spiritually sleeping" in the church at Sardis!

Jesus gives John a message to the church there, and it goes like this:

“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.' (Revelation 3:1-3)

He says 'Look, you've got a reputation for being do things that churches do...yet, I know the Truth...and the truth is, you're dead!'

Interesting note about the CITY of had once been influential and powerful, but now was in decline. It had a unique topography, being situated high on a cliff, and therefore, was thought to be safe...yet, it had been conquered twice! Why? Because of arrogance and laziness--the people (leaders especially) of Sardis did not prioritize watching for enemies. They thought themselves SO safe that they did not have to be watchful...and therefore, they'd been conquered and now were in decline and disrepair.

It seems as if the church in Sardis was in the same boat...they had not taken care to be watchful for enemies and attacks...and had been duped into compromise.

The church at Sardis had been influential, but had begun to change goals. Rather than thier goal being to glorify God and follow Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit, their goal had fit in. To be accepted as part of Sardis society. To be popular.

They were active...they apparently had church programs and church meetings...but apparently, this did NOT equate to having Spiritual LIFE!

According to J. Hampton Keathley, "So, in the very next words, we see a rude awakening and reality:

We see that they had a name, a reputation—what men thought.
We see they were alive, that is, they were an active church full of programs and church activity—what men see.
But, regardless, they were dead, without true spiritual vitality—what the Lord saw and knew.
The point is they had a reputation, they were known far and wide, and they were active, filled with activity, action, and programs, just like a great deal of the church today all across America. By the world’s standards they were successful and they were probably proud of their church, but our Lord says not so, “you are dead.”

Our churches face a similar problem...we may have numbers, activities, buildings...but do we have LIFE?

They faced similar pressures to us...their society was hostile toward them, and did not believe what they believed. Thier culture looked down on them, and considered them strange.

...and so they comprimised. They adapted to the world. They 'bought in' to the mindset, values, beliefs and customs of the world, instead of being transformed by God's Spirit (see Romans 12:1-2).

Interestingly, they continued to go to church! They continued to have religious activity! Yet, because they weren't paying attention to threats from the outside (and from within), their life slipped away without them knowing it.

But all hope was not lost...

4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.

There were some real believers there...some who really did have Spiritual Life within...some for whom the 'activities' really were 'SPIRTUALLY based' and motivated toward God's glory and following Jesus while representing Him on earth.

For them, the encouragement was to continue...Don't "soil your garments" (compromise with the world around). Instead, continue to live out your victory! Live from a position of power, connected to--and obedient to--the Spirit and the Word of God!

If they did--and if we do--they would be "clothed in white". They would be victorious and holy.

What is the goal of the Church today? Is it to 'fit in'? Is it to 'attract a crowd'? Is it to be 'busy'? NO!

Rather, the Church today (as always) is to glorify God, follow Jesus, and live in step with the Holy Spirit.

Otherwise, make no mistake...the Church that Sardis... WILL die!

6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches."

May God help US--You and I--to 'hear'!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I've got the Power!

There's a scene in one of my favorit movies, Bruce Almighty, where Jim Carey's character realizes that he's been given the power of God, and walks around using it (inappropriately) for his own ends. As he does so, he's singing Snap's "I've Got the Power!" and showing off.

Is THAT what the Holy Spirit is about?

Absolutely not...but it does bring up a question: Where is the Power?
When we look at the book of Acts, we see the Apostles doing miraculous things, in many cases, just like Jesus did! We see them casting out demons, healing people, speaking in languages that were previously unknown to them, even raising the dead!

In addition to that, we see that they were 'moved by' the Holy Spirit. They seemed to 'hear' from Him when to send Barnabus and Paul out(Acts 13:2); Peter heard from the Holy Spirit to go with the men from Cesarea (Acts 10); and in many other places...the clear picture is that the Holy Spirit was actively directing them.

So...where's that power today? Where's that direction today?

Some tell us that the Holy Spirit no longer works that way today...that it was all only to establish the Church, and (now that it's established and the Bible is complete), there's no real 'need' for it.

I disagree.

True, there may be some legit differences between how the Holy Spirit worked then and how He works now. There may be some of the 'offices' and roles in the early church that are not operating today...frankly, I'm not sure about some of that.

But one thing I KNOW: We NEED the Power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our faith, and in our Churches today!

In fact, I think it's fair to say that part of the reason 'Christianity' in America has been relatively powerless over the last few decades is that we have moved away from the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Remember, Jesus said to His disciples: " will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8-9)...and I don't know any church, any theological tradition or even any individual Christian who would say that that day--the time when Jesus calls us to be His witnesses and "Spread the Word"--has passed!

So, is it reasonable to expect that we will receive that same "power"?...that the Holy Spirit moves us to (among other things) be Jesus' witnesses? That the Holy Spirit is the key to us having the power to live out the life that Jesus calls us to?

I think it IS! I think it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

What, then, is the key, and why do we (sometimes) not experience that power?

I think it's because we've lost contact with our Power Source--the Holy Spirit.

I think that ONE of the basic things we need to do is to ask God, the Holy Spirit to fill us afresh with the power needed to do everything that God wants us to do! We need to believe it, expect it, step out in faith on it, and show it! we learn to listen to, depend on, and step out on His leading, He will lead us to do bigger things for the Kingdom. NOT for our own glory, but for the glory of God. NOT (like Bruce Almighty) for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the Church.

May God's power drive us today!

Friday, October 8, 2010


What are YOU passionate about?

For some, it's sports teams--all you have to do is ask "Michigan or Michigan State?" this week to find that out!

For others, it's shoes...or purses...or our kids...or gardening...or metal music...or whatever.

What's YOUR passion?

On the one hand, it's good that we have passion about SOMETHING! Life tends to rob us of that these days. We are so consumed with bills, our job, and our appointments that 'passion' can seem like a luxury.

I think it might just be possible to go through life so BUSY in many things that we have PASSION for nothing!

But think deeper: SOMETHING gets your attention! Something lights your fire! There is probably at least one thing that is easy to get passionate about--what is yours?

One thing I've been asking God to do lately in my life is to give me more "Passion" for His name...and I'd like to suggest that we ALL should do the same!

Think about it: The God of the Universe wants to be known by you! He wants to be intimately connected to your life (and mine, of course)!

Yet, we sometimes yawn and say "I'll get to it after my show"...or after the game, or whatever.


Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' (Mark 12:29, the Message)

It comes to this: I realize that there are some things that I have "passion" for, but that those things are temporary, at best. God, on the other hand, is eternal.

I want a Passion for HIM! I want my life to scream out "He deserves the glory!" I want my heart to passionately seek Him!

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek." (Psalm 27:8)

So, this is part of what's consuming me lately...
What about you?

Where are your passions?
Where does the Lord fit on your 'list of passions'?

I cannot imagine that God is content with being somewhere behind the Detroit Lions and gardening on my list! He wants--and He deserves--to be first!

...but this isn't just about 'what is right' or 'what is obedient' either...I WANT to have a passion for Him! I deeply desire to have my life revolve around an intimate connection with Him.

I want my life to be a prayer like this:

Lord, I love you, and I am amazed at your goodness to me. You are gracious and merciful, and your patience with me is incredible!

Yet, I want to know you more! I want to be closer to you! Show me, Lord, the things in my life that crowd you out! Show me the things that come between us. Help me to have the courage to get rid of those things--all the while reflecting your character and wisdom.

I love you, Lord! Fan the flame of passion in my heart for you! Holy Spirit, renew my love, revive my heart, and refocus my life.

I deeply desire to be 'all about you'!

Is that your prayer today?

Let's make it ours, together!

For His Glory,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Lord, I me in my unbelief"

It's one of my favorite interactions recorded in the Gospels...'cuz I can relate!

It's recorded in Mark, Ch. 9, just after Jesus and a few disciples had come down from the 'Mount of Transfiguration' experience to find a man with a teen boy who was possessed by an evil spirit. The rest of Jesus' disciples had not been able to help him.This evil spirit had caused the boy to injure himself, often throwing himself into fires; it had caused him to lose his speech, etc.--and had been doing so since childhood.

The man brought the boy to Jesus and said "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (vv. 22-23)

"IF You can?" I think the boy's father had almost given up hope...even when he'd brought the boy to Jesus' disciples, they'd been unable to help (and he'd probably sought other kinds of help too)...but he hadn't yet encountered the power of the Son of God!

It's almost as if Jesus wanted him to say "No one else can do it, but I KNOW you can!'

The boy's father's faith was too fragile...all he could say was "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Jesus could have given him a lecture about how important real faith is...He could have held him up as an example of the faith-LESS...but He didn't. He knew the man's heart. He knew that there was real faith there...but He also knew that his faith was faltering.

Jesus decided to restore the man's full confidence, and to heal the boy. He didn't wait fot the father to have "Perfect" faith...He worked with what he had, encouraging more.

We are like that man's father. I am, anyway!

He has worked in SO MANY ways in my life, I should have 'zero' reasons not be believe when He calls me to something.

Yet, fears creep in...insecurity is there...a lack of confidence lingers.

Jesus, gracious as He is, works anyway--in spite of my imperfect faith. He encourages me, nurtures me, and motivates me to step out in faith--sometimes in little ways, sometimes in big ones.

Whether it's with KCC, it's plans and it's budget, or my home and family, or some other 'faith adventure', God calls me to have increasing faith. Fortunately for all, He does not DEMAND MY PERFECTION before He can work, however.

Has God been calling YOU to make a stand in faith lately? Is He moving you to step out? You may have some fear and some hesitation, but if it's truly Him who is calling you (and make sure you pray and meditate on His word, asking the Spirit to reveal God's will to you) then make sure and DO IT!

Step out in faith and watch Him work!

Your faith doesn't have to be perfect...just willing!

That's the beauty of Jesus--that He works in, on, and through 'imperfect' me!

For His glory,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hold On! (Revelation 2:18-29)

In His letters to the churches, Jesus sends a message (through John) to the church in Thyatira. It is a serious warning, and there's an important lesson for us to learn...but first, look at how He finishes this letter:

"Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
'He will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will dash them to pieces like pottery'— just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

He says to them, in essence: 'No matter how hard it matter the cost...HOLD ON to your faith! HOLD ON to the truth! I will give you victory, and give you authority over the nations...just HOLD ON!

It's a sobering...and important message for us today.

Our world can challenge our faith in a big way. Pressures from outside the Church can make it difficult to be faithful. This has always been the case, and the Lord has given strength to those who are His, enabling them to be faithful in spite of opposition from without.

...but Thyatira was different! This was opposition from within the Church!.

A woman (in this case--certainly not always women) they called "Jezebel" had loudly dominated the church. She had some authority within the church, and was teaching the people to 'go ahead' and adopt the standards and practices of the world around them. To 'go with the flow' of their society.

Specifically, in Thyatira, there were lots of 'trade guilds'. Each trade had it's own guild and each guild had it's own customs, practices, etc. Each guild also had it's own 'god' which needed to be worshipped in order to bless with work.

In other words, the tradesmen in Thyatira, in order to get work, had to belong to a guild, and that included going to thier worship services to their false gods, including eating food which had been sacrificed to these idols right in front of them, and joining in their sexually immoral practises!

Here's the thing: In order to work, they had to join; in order to join, they had to participate. Otherwise, they would not be allowed to work, thier families would not eat, etc.

Talk about compulsory union membership!

'Jezebel' encouraged them to 'go ahead' and fit in. In so doing, they ended up adopting many of the customs, beliefs, morality and mindset of the people around them.

She called this her 'deeper teaching' that was given to her as a prophetess. In reality they were the "deep secrets of Satan" (v. 24).

They continued to tolerate her influence and teaching, and this was what Jesus had "against" them (v. 20)They ended up hiding their true faith--so much so that they started to forget what their true faith was--and compromise it...and this 'Jezebel' loudly and pursuasively argued that they should continue on this path.

God had given her--this leader in the Church--time to repent...but she had not. Now her time was up. He was going to bring her to intense suffering--and all who went with her (rather than standing on Biblical truth).

...but to those who remained those who overcame--not only the pressure from without, but also the pressure from within the them, He would give authority and power!

We face opposition from our culture...and we will probably face more, deeper, and more militant opposition in the not-too-distant-future.

We will also face opposition from within, from the 'spirit of Jezebel' which loudly tells us just to fit go adopt the standards and practises of this world.

We MUST remain faithful. We MUST overcome!

As God gives us strength, let us endure any opposition and remain true to Him!

For God's glory...Dave

Read this passage here:

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Artist's work

Yesterday @ KCC we started our series on the Holy Spirit, "Forgotten God".

I believe this to be a crucial series in the life of KCC, but also to be important for ALL believers in Jesus Christ!

Many of us function in our everyday lives as if WE are the ones who produce 'sanctification' in our lives. We act as though simply 'trying harder' will make us more like Jesus.

Don't get me wrong--I believe that we DO have a responsibility...but that responsibility is to "keep in step with the Spirit", and to make sure that we are living in such a way that The Holy Spirit can produce the "fruit" in our lives (See Galatians 4-5).

...but one main point needs to be emphasized again, and that is this:

IF we want more power, consistency, joy, and FAITH in our lives, we CANNOT do things the same way as we always have! We MUST be open to the possibility that God wants to change some things in us in order to do His work! God is like an artist making His masterpiece in our lives...and we need to be willing to have him 'mold us and make us' however He wants!

The Prophet Isaih wrote,
"You turn things upside down,as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"?
and the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? (Isaiah 29:16)

The Apostle Paul wrote:
"But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:21-22)

My point is simply this:

If we are going to be formed by God into the person He wants us to be (and consequently, to experience Him in new, deeper, and more consistent ways), we have to be willing to be 'the lump of clay"! We must be willing to have Him do his work! The canvas cannot tell the artist what to paint! The iron cannot tell the blacksmith how much to pound on it!

If we are going to "go further" in our faith, we have to willingly submit ourselves to our Master.

One of the things that means is that we must commit to letting Him "search me, o God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts; See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting..." (Psalm 139:23-24)

This takes takes rests on our understanding that our Lord LOVES us and has GOOD things in mind for us--He is not sadistic, and He does not 'pound on us' for no reason.

I wonder how many of us want to 'go deeper' in our faith--even though it means saying to God "Lord, I'm with me what you will."

I want the Artist to work my life into something beautiful...even if it means going through something difficult to get there.

HE knows what is necessary; I choose to trust and submit to Him.

How about you?

Want to join me in watching God work? Want to see what He does in us?

It's the only way to get to be that beautiful work of the Artist!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Watermelon, anyone? (Revelation 2: 12-17)

What is the most effective way to destroy The Church? Is it persecution? No!

Most true churches, when persecuted, actually over time get stronger!

So what is it?


If our enemy can't 'bully' us into submission by persecution, he'll seduce us into compromise, and ruin us from within.

I remember once we had a watermelon. We'd had it for some time, and I finally got around to cutting into it. It looked and felt fine when I picked it up, but when I did, I found that it was all funky inside. It had apparently been decomposing from within, and was mush! All appearances on the outside were fine, but on the inside, it was a mess.

The church in Pergamum is in a similar state. (Revelation 2:12-17). This church extisted in hostile territory ("I know where you live—where Satan has his throne..." (v. 13). In spite of this, they had not renounced their faith in Jesus, even when one of their leaders ("Antipas, My faithful witness" (v. 13)was killed for his faith. In other words, despite direct attack and opposition from those around them, they had remained faithful to Jesus--and He commends them for it!

This city was the place that the first temple to Ceasar was had the largest altar to Zues in the world on the highest hill in the city, and it was known to be the place that originated the worship of Asklepios, the 'god of healing' who was symbolized by a serpant, and was worshipped with snakes.

This is hostile territory, and that hostility had resulted in the martyrdom of atl least one--Antipas. The pressure was intense, yet they remained faithful!

"Nevertheless, I have a few things against you..." (v. 14).

Specifically, he confronts them for having people in thier midst--in thier congregation--who held to the "teachings of Balaam" and the teachings of the "Nicolaitans". In both cases, they are teachings of compromise.

Balaam (see Numbers 23-25) was a 'prophet for hire'. He would basically prostitute himself and prophesy against someone for someone else, who would pay him off. Once he was paid by the kinf of Moab to prophecy against Israel, but he was stopped from doing so. Therefore, in order to accomplish his task, he tried another strategy: He got the Israelites to intermarry with Moabite women, adopt thier customs, traditions, and (eventually) gods, and thereby eliminate the power in Israel, and enable Moab to be supreme.

The Nicolaitans basically taught that, because a person was a Christian, they could (and even should) do anything and everything they wanted--to celebrate forgiveness! Specifically, they advocated for drunkenness and sexual sin.

The church in Pergamum had withstood the frontal attack of satan through persectution, but they were rotting from within because they were 'allowing' (and were gradually compromising) those who would compromise with the standards and practises of the world around them.

The warning was ominous: Repent (turn around quickly--turn back to pure faith in Jesus and the willingness to follow), or I will come to you and fight against them..." (v. 16)

Remember that He introduced Himself as the "One who holds the double-edged sword" (v. 12), and that the Word of God is called a "double edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus is saying that they MUST get back to uncomprimising obedience to His word, and in order to do so, they MUST stop allowing those who comprimise to continue, unabated, in their church. They MUST expose this teaching for what it is--a comprimise with satan--; for what it does--rot people's faith (and thier church) from within; and for the effect it will have--the judgement of God.

Again, there is promise for those who overcome (v.17). Those promises seem a bit cryptic, but suffice it to say that it means that Jesus will personally--within thier hearts--encourage and reward them.

So, what's it mean for us today?


I believe that this is quickly becoming the #1 reason that the Church in America is so impotent and lacking...because (in many cases) we comprimise witht this world! We adopt their practises, we adopt thier philosophies, we adopt their morality...and if the Word of God becomes a problem, we are actually prone to 're-interpret' the meaning--or to disregard it altogether. All the while, we SAY that we're Christians!

WE...TODAY...must repent of our comprimise!

We must commit to the True Word of God, and to following Him--no matter what that means! Do so graciously, with humility and mercy, to be sure...but WE CANNOT COMPRIMISE ANY LONGER!

If Jesus were writing this today, I wonder if the only word that would have to change is the location--Pergamum. Could He substitute "the U.S." for it? "Michigan"? "Kalamazoo"?

Let's not keep living in a way which brings His judgment. Let us purify ourselves, stand for His name, and stand fast on His Word!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Revelation...for Today (Part 2) OVERCOME!

So, as I'm reading about Jesus' letters to the 7 churches (through John), I'm always asking: What can WE take from these letters today?

Apparently, quite a bit!

Look at Revelation 2:8-11 "I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death."

Smyrna was a beautiful, rich city...very influential in the days of this writing...but the Church there was not. (Apparently, the word for "poverty" meant...pretty dire poverty!) This was not figurative at all--this church--in the midst of thier community of plenty--was in poverty!

There could be lots of reasons for that, but chances are good that it had to do with the next verses--they were being persecuted! In that day--especially that community--you could not 'lightly' follow Jesus. In fact, they had a MAJOR "Ceasar-worship" thing going on there, so that, if you refused to publicly worship Ceasar (and thus, get 'certified'), you could not buy/sell, whatever!

Thier leader was Polycarp, a bishop who was a GREAT example of leading faitfully in the midst of trouble. In fact, Polycarp was burned at the stake for refusing to publicly denounce Jesus and worship Ceasar. This was no mere 'inconvenience' for following Jesus--you paid for it! Some paid with jobs, with reputations, with physical danger. Some would go to prison. Some would be killed.

I haven't been able to find out what the "10 days" was all about (could this have been when Polycarp was burned?), but the bottom line for us is this:

This is the ONLY letter in which their is no confrontation/admonition--only encouragement. This group--which had every circumstance against them--had shown themselves to be faithful in the past. Now, as the persecution was going to be 'amped up', they were being encouraged. (Note: they weren't being promised that God would remove them from it--simply that Jesus would be there with them, and would reward them in the end).

So, what about us?

All I know is that this level of persecution has not reached the U.S. Church...yet. Unlike our brothers/sisters in other parts of the world, we do not 'pay for our faith' with imprisonment, dire poverty, beatings, or death...yet. (Check out this link for more:

So...we should be 'all good', right? No complaints here!


I don't know about you, but I think I'm pretty soft. It doesn't take much for me to get my eyes off of Jesus and onto myself--my circumstances, my difficulties.

I can be a whiner! And I don't want to be.

I want to be the kind of follower that laughs in the face of danger; that confidently stands for Christ in the midst of opposition; that faithfully follows Him--without compromise--no matter the cost!

How about you?

If we want to be that way 'when the chips are down', then we need to start responding in faithfulness and obedience today--right here, in our CURRENT circumstances. THIS is the 'training ground' that God has us in right now.

The church in Smyrna had NOTHING in their favor--circumstantially. Yet, they had EVERYTHING THEY NEEDED in their favor--spiritually...they had Jesus with them.They had the Holy Spirit's power within!

So do we!

So, how about it--let's quit complaining, whining, blaming our circmumstances and instead rise above them in VICTORY through the power that the Holy Spirit provides!

"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life...He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." (vv. 10-11)

May the Lord enable us to quit focusing on the negatives of our circumstances, and instead focus on the riches He's given us--and to rise up VICTORIOUS over them!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crushed Ice, please!

We bought a new refrigerator this year.

Our old one was--quite literally--falling apart. The Duct-tape was no longer holding the shelves together, so we got one.

Know what's the best thing about it?

The Icemaker!

Why? Because we can get crushed ice!

For some reason, crushed ice makes every drink better. I have had more icewater since we've bought this fridge than ever before--the crushed ice somehow makes it refreshing.

I can't imagine going back!

"So what?" you say?

Well, I was thinking of how we think of our faith.

For many of us--who would say our faith is important to us--we actually live as if it's nothing all that great.

Sort of like regular water, maybe with a couple of cubes.

The very idea that there might be MORE--by God's design--not only doesn't occur to us, but, in truth, we don't really want it!

We kinda like it the way it is.

We can go to church, pray, and so on in a very 'controlled', and even 'safe' way. God is a part of my life, but not really anything more.

I don't know about you, but I think that a God who can be kept in a box, on a shelf, to be taken out whenever I need him or whenever it's convenient, is not a very special god.

...and it's NOT the God of the Bible!

Jesus said "I have come that they (that's us--His followers) might have LIFE and have it TO THE FULL!" (John 10:10, emphasis added).

I want that 'full' life!

Therefore, I want to insure that He is in His rightful place--driving and changing my life!

HE is my source; HE is my hope; HE is my guide.


In this posture, I see Him for who He really is...and myself as who I really am--humbled, needy, utterly dependent on Him.

Ironically, when I finally take, embrace, and live with that posture, He gives me all I need.

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble....therefore, humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:10)

It is in embracing that posture--of utter need and humble dependence on Him--that we finally are given that meaning, direction, peace...and LIFE!

THEN you--and I--can have "Life to the full".

...and THAT is refreshing...sort of like a glass of ice water--crushed ice, of course!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revelations...for Today!

The book of Revelation is one of those books that get people in a theological tizzy..."What does this symbol mean?", or 'Who could that be talking about"?

It's enough to cause us to stay away entirely!

Yet, we have to remember that it IS in the Bible, which means it IS the Word of God, and He DID inspire John to write we should at least be aware of it.

Besides, in the 1st 3 chapters, there's a lot of "low-hanging fruit"--teaching that is easy for us to grasp and apply today.

John writes 7 'letters' to 7 influential churches in Asia Minor...and they are important for us to read. These letters do not originate with John, but come in a vision from the Risen Lord Jesus himself!

In Revelation 2:1-7, he writes to the Church in Ephesus. In vv. 2 and 3, He notes all the good things they've done. This church stood for purity of belief, obedience to the teachings of the Word, and utmost allegiance to Jesus. They openly defied the mindset of their culture, which was very much an 'anything goes' culture. They stood for doctrinal purity--and opposed groups that would come in--like the Nicolaitans (v.6)--who were teaching that one could be a Christian and live a Biblically immoral life at the same time.

Yet, this very commitment to 'doctrinal purity' led them to over-correct. They lost the most important thing about thier faith: Their intimate connection to Jesus Christ! He said that they had "Lost [their] first love".(v.4) They had become so 'rigidly committed to the Truth' and to the correct doctrines (ie, beliefs) that they had become...'religious' more than faitful. They were functioning now out of judgment, not out of love, grace, and mercy.

There are many Christians...and many churches...that struggle with this today. We sometimes get so committed to what we understand to be 'the teaching of the Word' that we forget that our ultimate aim is to Love God, follow Jesus, and live by the power of the Holy Spirit. WE have become like the church in Ephesus--more 'religion' than personal 'relationship' with Jesus Christ.

The bottom line: We've so intellectualized our faith that it's become a set up beliefs...little more. The personal connection to Jesus is there, from a technical theological standpoint, but the close, intimate, loving relationship with Him--through which we are made more like Him--is missing.

What's the answer? Same as it was for them: "REMEMBER the height from which you have fallen, REPENT (turn back to Me), and DO the things you did at first" (v. 5)

WE--us--today...need to Remember what it was like when we first understood about our sin, our need and desperation, and the grace and loving self-sacrifice of Jesus, which gave us new life! WE need to remember what that close connection was like, how new and life-changing it was, how committed we were to do anything He asked, by faith!

WE, today, need to REPENT--to admit our sin, our 'religiosity' and our callousness to what really matters to Him. WE need to turn back to become people of grace, mercy, and love--of Him and of others. WE need to embrace not only the DOCTRINES of the faith (which we absolutely need), but also the passion and love of Jesus--which drives and compells us to be more like Him.

WE, today, need to DO the things we did at first. We prayed all the time, we devoured the Word of God, we looked forward to going to church, enthusiastically participating. We told others about Him, and we dedicated all of our lives to Him.

Are YOU infected with the 'religious spirit', like the church in Ephesus? If so, you now know what to do...DO IT!

Seeking pure devotion to Him,


Thursday, September 9, 2010

...So, what does it mean to LIVE?

I've been thinking alot lately about what it means to "Live by Faith". I've been emphasizing the "Faith" aspect of that. (You can look at recent blogs if you're interested.)

It's important--after all, if we don't start with FAITH in Jesus Christ, the Scriptures say that we don't have Spiritual LIFE at all! (Jesus said that we must be "born again"...born both physically, and "of the Spirit" (John 3). Paul writes that our faith is what gives us new LIFE..."This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17), so clearly, FAITH is crucial for the beginning of Spiritual Life.

...but it has me thinking: I understand the "faith" part of it, but what is the "LIFE" part of it? In other words, if the Holy Spirit gives us new Life, What is that Life supposed to be?

Is it merely the hope of heaven when I die, or is it more?

(Obviously, that's a leading question...of course you know that I think it means more--MUCH more!)

Jesus said "The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that they (Those who Live By Faith in Him) will have LIFE...and have it TO THE FULL!" (John 10:10, emphasis mine).

What is "Life in the Spirit" and "Life to the full"?

I believe it's a lot of good things: Victory over my 'flesh'--the things that tempt me to turn my back on God's will; Victory over my circumstances--the events of my life that I frequently allow to mess me up; the Power to overcome obstacles that come between me and God's plan for my many things!

How does this LIFE show itself?

Well, like today: Our family all has to get out the door for school @ 7:00 (all except me--which is how I can write this). 3 different sets of people heading to 3 different schools, all getting ready at the same time, finalizing lunches at the same time, combing hair and brushing teeth at the same time, then leaving--all at the same time.

THOSE are some chaotic circumstances!

...and while we do everything possible to lessen it (clothes out the night before,lunches mostly packed the night before, etc.), it inevitably gets pretty intense...tears are sometimes shed, frustration is voiced, words are tersely spoken...and our day starts out anything but peaceful and victorious!

I'll bet you can relate!

So what does "Life in the Spirit" mean there?

I think it means that we each--those who are indwelt by the Spirit (see earlier posts)--can take a breath, speak a prayer, and overcome those circumstances. In SPITE of the circumstances, we can be a blessing! If words were spoken in anger, we can heal and forgive...if tears were shed, we can encourage.

Make no mistake: this is not 'trivial' in God's eyes! These are the very kinds of circumstances in which "LIVING by Faith" shows itself!

Today, may you--family, friend, and stranger alike--LIVE by Faith!

"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:...hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,...and other sins like these...But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:16-23)

I want the Fruit of the Spirit--LIFE in the Spirit; don't you?

Let us each TODAY not only "Live by FAITH", but open up to Him in such a way that we "LIVE by Faith"!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Ancient Lessons Apply Today!

So, I feel like God has given me a message with increasing clarity lately about the importance of "living by FAITH". I've written about it, talked about it, I've prayed about it and been challenged personally by it.

Part of the reason, I think, is that the American church has been distracted...busy with way too many worldly pursuits to really "live it out". I believe we need to be challenged and reminded and, in many cases, we need to repent and come back to a REAL, Intimate relationship with God.

I've been reading in the book of Jeremiah recently, and he had that same message for the people of Israel. They had been carried into exile, and some prophets were saying "peace and safety", but he was not. In fact, he called those prophets out as liars...but the people would not listen.

Fortunately, God did not leave them in "discipline" mode...He promised a new day would come...a day when He would establish a NEW COVENANT with them!...a day when they would KNOW God, and would have a RELATIONSHIP with Him, by faith! This would be a time in which they wouldn't need to be told how to live--they would obey the Spirit within, and would live thier faith out, prioritizing their relationship with God above all others.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time" (of discipline), declares the Lord. "I will put my law in thier minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor...saying "(this is how to)Know the Lord", because THEY WILL ALL KNOW ME, from the least of them to the greatest." declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember thier sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The GREAT NEWS is that WE are living in "that time"! We--because of Jesus Christ--can "KNOW the Lord"! We can have the Law written on our hearts and in our minds! We have the amazing, enormous priviledge of being forgiven, and having the Lord as our God!

How can we possibly take that for granted? How can we possibly be too distracted by our pursuit of 'worldly things'...fitting into the pattern of this world, being conformed to the mindset of this world--when we have such a priviledge?

I believe that many of us must repent of our worldliness, ask God's forgiveness and give Him the place of pre-eminence in our lives that He--and He alone--deserves!

...and rather than pointing the finger at everyone else, I realize that God's Spirit is saying to me that I have to start with myself.

What about you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why won't God show up?

Ever wondered why God moves sometimes, while other times He seems to remain silent?

Why He seems to be 'at work' in some people's lives...but not in others?

There could be many reasons for this, but I want you to consider this one:

Maybe God doesn't "show Himself" because...we don't need Him to!Our 'faith' doesn't require us to depend on Him, on a day-to-day basis, at all!

He says in His word that "The righteous will live by FAITH" (Romans 1:17)

Maybe we've created a life of faith that is so safe, so secure, so predictable that we don't NEED God to 'DO' anything!

Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying that God isn't there--just that He's not called upon in any real way, so He doesn't act.

It's not because His power is limited...not because He doesn't care...just because we have made our faith so 'sterile' and bland that He moves somewhere else.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9: "The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth, seeking to strongly support those who's hearts are fully committed to Him".

To be sure, God is STILL searching...

He is STILL interested in "strongly supporting us", but we have to ask ourselves:

Are our hearts--is YOUR heart "fully committed to Him"?

I still believe God has big things to do. I still believe He wants to 'show up'. I believe He wants to encourage those who step out in faith to serve Him, willing to move into whatever adventure He calls us to.

The question is, 'Will we have the courage to step out'?

Will we act on faith?

Are we...are YOU...willing to step into the adventure He's been calling you to, knowing that 'If He doesn't catch me, I crash'?

Are you willing to NEED God?

If so, have faith! Be of good courage! He WILL strongly support you!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WHO is building our House?

"Unless the Lord builds a house,the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,guarding it with sentries will do no good." (Psalm 127:1)

WHO is building our house?
WHO is watching over your city?
WHO is blessing you by meeting your needs?

If YOU are doing it, and not the LORD, it's happening in vain.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, with regard to our country, with regard to our church, and with regard to my family.

Unless I have the LORD in His proper place--the place of Pre-eminence--it's all in vain.

"It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night,anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones." (Psalm 127:2)

In vain do we in the U.S. cast our votes, use our military, and invest our monies--IF we're at the same time, pushing the LORD out.

In vain do we @ KCC (or any other church)make our plans, craft our strategies, program our Sundays...if we're doing it in our own 'wisdom'.

In vain do I teach my children and seek to love my wife--if I'm doing it in my own strength.

I NEED the LORD to be 'building the house'.

Now, some of us might say "Duh! Of COURSE we agree with that!"

But I think all 3 of these areas--country, church, and family--are succeptible to bouts of "spiritual amnesia", where we forget that--not deliberately (most of the time), but gradually. Over time, we lose touch. We think we've got it covered. We think our routine is pretty good--especially if we ask God to bless it now and then.

But what we REALLY need is to come repent of our self-sufficiency, and to go to God for every single breath, every single decision, every single move.

We need--I NEED--to immerse myself in God's Spirit and to let HIM give His wisdom. I need to have HIS power. I need to have HIS 'strategy'.

I dare not take another breath, make another move, have another talk, teach another lesson without it.

My heart is ACHING for God to move. I am THIRSTY for Him. I NEED Him to 'build' my house (and our church, and our country). Otherwise, it's all a spiritual facade...a fake.

...and we don't need any more fakes!

What about you?

Will you join me in the drive to 'give God His rightful place' again in your life--every area--work, church, family, money, politics?

Will you repent of your self-sufficiency and routine--a routine that (practically speaking) has pushed God out of the driver's seat and has put yourself (or some other influence) there?

We need to be DESPERATE for God to 'build our house'.

Are you 'desperate' yet?

Friday, June 18, 2010

End Times--Worth Paying Attention To? (Daniel 10-12)

What does "the End" look like? When will it come? How will it get here?...and the BIG Question: Are we living in those times?

All of those questions are interesting, compelling, captivating...and (I think) may be futile.

I know, I just offended a bunch of people. Many love the study of 'the end times', and I understand. So do I!

I DO think it's worth studying and paying attention, but I just don't know that we're ever (with apologies to Jack VanImpe and John Hagee, among others) going to know for sure, and interpret the signs and the Scriptures with accuracy and authority in these matters.

That does NOT mean (as some say) that we shouldn't even think about it--as some do! Here's the problem with that line of thinking: These things are IN THE SCRIPTURES! You and I can't just ignore them!

I think that we need to read them (NOT to get obsessed with them, but read these passages as we do all of the Bible), keep our eyes open, keep praying and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pay attention.

As I've been reading through Daniel I obviously come to the predicition of the tribulation (and the deliverance of some from it); the "Abomanation that causes Desolation", and the 'willful King'.

Some of this seems, quite clearly to be in the past...but not all of it. When Daniel's prophecy is combined with others--John's "Revelation", and Jesus' words in Matthew 24...there is very clearly a date in the future in mind, and the events that go along with it.

So...are we supposed to figure it out? Well, the gospel does say "Let the reader understand", and Jesus repeadedly said "Him who has ears to hear--let him hear!". He did warn us that "if it were possible" some of the Elect would be deceived--meaning those who have been saved by faith in Christ!

That means, in my opinion, that we should pay attention.
WILL the U.S. play a part? Will we even be around? Will we be so fixated on our own issues that we don't get involved? OR...will we be part of a New World Order which makes things like the Constitution irrelevant, in favor of things like the U.N. Charter?

Will we see a leader who takes his 'throne' in the Temple and sets himself up above the "God's of the past"? Will the whole push to 'world unity'--and the elimination of "religious hate speech" be part of this?

All of these things are possible...I think, Probable. Can we KNOW, however?

I don't think so. Remember, Jesus said "No one knows the day and the hour, not the Angels, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father". (Matt. 24:36). However, He also said "Therefore, Keep Watch!"

We need to be paying attention to these things...we need to be praying for discernment so that we are not decieved, and we don't allow others to be.

We CANNOT, however, allow our fixation on these things to stop us from living our faith out--no matter the cost! Whether we are in 'the end times' or not, Jesus calls us to be faithful to Him. If that means we are accused of hate speech, if that means we run counter to the world's rulers and systems, if that means we set ourselves up for punishment and even death, so be it!

May God grant us wisdom and strength for whatever lies ahead, and the faith to be strong, no matter what!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The One-Note Song

I love music...all kinds of music (o.k., maybe not rap and death metal...but I love a wide variety of music!).

I love to listen to the different instruments and try to pick out the rythmns, the notes, etc.--the way they each form thier own sound, but come together to form one better (sometimes AMAZING) sound is pretty cool!

What would it be like if every instrument played just one note? Maybe it was the 'middle C', or something great like that--choose your favorite note--but they each played only one?

Pretty aggravating. Pretty boring. I'd quickly turn it off.

Here's the thing: some of us only play one "note" in our dealings with others.

I'm a Christian. Full-fledged Christ follower. That means a few things, among them: I know, by faith, that I am God's child and am headed to heaven to be with Him. I know that it is by God's grace, through faith in Christ. I also know that some people will reject Him, and will therefore spend eternity separated from Him.

All of this I know...and I want to convince them to turn to Him in faith, to rescue them from their own sin.

What is the most effective way to do that?

Is it to run around yelling "You're going to Hell! You're going to Hell!"?

Don't think so. (Although it MAY be true--who am I to tell--I don't know thier hearts!). Even if it IS true, however, when they hear me yelling--using my 'one note', they will tune me out, so that the truth of the message--and the offer of salvation, through Christ--will be unheard.

We do the same thing with many important, controversial topics--including politics.

Yesterday the President of the United States visited our fair city and spoke at my Alma Mater, Kalamazoo Central High School. He said things I agree with--"Don't blame others; Don't make excuses; Don't let others determine your life; Rise above your circumstances; Help others rise up too"--and I agree with all of that. The experience, for those graduates and families was pretty amazing, I'm sure.

However, some of those who disagree with his politics (I count myself among them), find themselves unable to admit that these are good words. They can't see themselves EVER agreeing with ANYTHING he says (much like many of President Obama's supporters did with former President Bush).

I KNOW the arguments: "Who is he to say THAT? He's the 'Complainer in Cheif'!"; "He's just lulling us to sleep with nice words, then he'll pull the rug out!"

Let me ask my conservative brethren something: What is your goal? Is your goal to say "I was RIGHT!" in the end, or is it to convince people to take a step back and consider what's going on? Is your goal to wake people up, or to excuse yourself?

If your goal is to wake people up to what's going on, don't play only one note! Acknowledge when the President (or his cabinet) do something right, and those who write your opinions off as mere political 'hackery' will be more likely to take notice, and listen when you have a criticism.

If you only play 'one note', whether it's in music, politics, or faith--No One wants to listen! They may just turn you off!

1st Peter 3:15-16: "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.[c] Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ."

Philippians 2:14-15: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."

Just sayin...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Keep on Keeping On! (Daniel 6:10-28)

Daniel had been set up.

Those competing with him for influence over the king had used the king's own ego to trick him into making a law against prayer.

They knew that Daniel prayed. They knew that the only way to 'get him' was to use his faith in his God against him (because he was a man of integrity, and his faith was why--see "Would YOUR Faith Condemn You?").

So, thier trap worked.

"But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help." (vv. 10-11)

Daniel had always been a man of faith and prayer, and he was not about to stop that. He had enormous faith in his God (NOT just any god!), and knew that He would take care of him.

So...he prayed with the windows open, as he had always done.

...and his detractors saw it, and went and reported it to the king.

"14 Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament."

The king, who hadn't really thought through all the implications of a law which stroked his ego, was grieved...he hadn't thought of Daniel! His ego had trapped him into doing something to Daniel that he deeply regretted...but it was too late--had had backed himself into a corner.

"15 In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.”

16 So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel.

The King (Darius) knew about Daniel's God. He knew that this God was a big part of the reason that Daniel was so faithful...all he could do was hope that Daniel's God would show Himself...again!

18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night.

19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”

What realistic hope did he have in that? These Lions were purposefully fed only enough to keep them strong--and HUNGRY! They would've overwhelmed Daniel before he even reached the center of the den, right?


"21 Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

24 Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den."

Daniel had served God faithfully, and served the king faithfully. As a result, he could commit himself to God and trust Him...and God came through, shutting the Lions' mouths.

King Darius wrote to praise Daniel's God:
“Peace and prosperity to you!
26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God,
and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and his rule will never end.
27 He rescues and saves his people;
he performs miraculous signs and wonders
in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian."

What do we learn from Daniel?

That we should make sure our faith is geniune...that we should nurture our own faith every day...that our work and service--no matter who it's to--should reflect that faith...that we may get persecuted for it, but we can trust God to care for us, deliver us, and save us...that if, in the Wisdom of God, He chooses not to, we can still trust Him...for ETERNITY!

Therefore, let's commit ourselves to the Lord and serve Hime wherever we're at, whatever we're doing, not provoking others, but refusing to back down. We serve the LIVING, TRUE God!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Would YOUR Faith Condemn You? (Daniel 6:1-5)

Daniel was a great servant, leader, and administrator. He continually showed himself to be faithful and committed, no matter who the leader was 'above' him. (Remember, he was forcibly taken from his home as a young man by Nebuchadnezzer, then served under Belteshazzar, now Darius (of the Medo/Persian Empire). Not only different kings, but different countries!)

Yet...Daniel continued to serve faithfully. "The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire." (vv. 2-3)

Why? How? How could Daniel continue to rise to the top, no matter who was 'over' him?

It came from his faith...and other leaders hated him for it!

NOTE: Remember, when you serve faithfully--whatever role you're in, whoever is your boss--God will exalt you (in His perfect time)...and others will not like it. ESPECIALLY if they know it comes from your faith, expect to be challenged!.

"Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” (vv.4-5)

Did you catch that? "Our ONLY CHANCE of finding ground for accusing Daniel"...will come from his faith. Daniel was so committed (and apparently up-front) about his faith that everyone knew of it...some admired it, but others hated it.

How does that compare to you and I? Would anyone, anywhere ever utter a statement like 'If we're going to find anything wrong with him, it's going to be in the area of his faith'?

Are we so committed that...A) Everyone knows about it (we don't hide it)... B) It is rock-solid and consistent...and C) We're willing to follow our faith, even at great cost to us?

Daniel was!

By the way, there's no evidence that Daniel was obnoxious about it...he just went on his way, doing his thing, consistently and humbly...(see 1 Peter 3:15).

If they ever start throwing people in jail for consistenly pledging allegiance to God, and following His Word, would YOU be arrested? Would YOU be convicted?

I hope that I would!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Hand Writing on the Wall...a lesson for today? (Daniel 5)

We all do it.
We all have a tendency to take important things for granted.
We have a tendency to forget lessons learned.

King Nebuchadnezzer had learned important things from his time with Daniel, and had humbled himself before "the God of Heaven" on a few occasions...

...but his son, Belshazzar? Not so much.

Did King Nebu forget to tell him? Did Beshazzar just roll his eyes thinking "whatever dad--god of heaven--got it". Don't know--we're not told.

(But parents, it does remind us how important it is to teach our children the things we've learned, especially about God and Spiritual things!...even if they do roll their eyes!)

King Belshazzar took even further steps of arrogance than his father had. King Nebu was guilty of arrogance and pride, exalting himself without giving any credit to the Lord. Belshazzar went even further. He started out with that arrogance, then added insult to it--he went and got some of the gold goblets which had been taken from the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem...and they drank wine out of them! This was one more way in which he was exalting himself above Daniel and Daniel's God...he was 'thumbing his nose' at Daniel's god--the Lord, God of Heaven. He was essentially saying 'Who's in charge NOW, huh? I've got control over the people...over the temple, and over the things that were dedicated to the Lord...I AM IN CHARGE!'

Bad move.

(Side point: Keep this in mind for future stuff from Daniel...when he starts prophesying about the "abomanation that causes desolation", it's this kind of thing--a ruler exalting himself over the God of heaven, misusing his temple (and, I believe, the church). One who's arrogance extends even to misusing the name of God...'him who has ears to hear, let him hear!')

Suddenly, in the midst of the party he's throwing, Belshazzar sees a human hand writing on a wall. THAT would be freaky! Not only that, but it's a language he doesn't know.

He panics and calls in all the wise men, etc...but no one can read it. Finally his mother reminds him about Daniel, "who has the spirit of the holy gods in him" (v. 11) Belshazzar calls for Daniel.

Daniel's news is not good for King Belshy...

Daniel reminded King Belshy about all that King Nebu (his father) had learned about humilty before God...and he said "You his son have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this...instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of Heaven" (vv.22-23).

Because he had exalted himself so high, because he had the nerve to misuse the name of God, because he had (by using the items dedicated to God in the temple) shown contempt for God and arrogance...his kingdom was going to be removed from him and given to the Medes and the Persians.

It was done...THAT VERY NIGHT!

Whenever we exalt ourselves above God...whenever we take his blessing for granted, we are ASKING to be humbled.

But if a leader--in the Church or in Politics--exalts himself above God and misuses faith, misuses the Church, or misuses anything that rightfully belongs to God, that leader is showing the height of arrogance, and is asking to have his own "hand writing on the wall" moment.

May we never be so arrogant and so stupid...instead, may we all--and each and every one of our leaders--humble themselves before the Lord.

...keep this in mind...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Flipping" my life--Tornados and God

Amazing, isn't it? When you look back over the course of your life, I'll bet you can see that the difficult times--the trials, the tragedies, are the moments of life change--many for the better, some for the worse.

I think that the difference--good or bad--is how much you allow God into that situation.

Take the May 13, 1980 tornado in Kalamazoo...a tragic situation, to be sure! 5 deaths, 79 injuries, $50 Million in damage (what would that be today--$500 Mil?), and countless lives disrupted, pictures lost, prom dresses ruined, houses and churches destroyed...the list could go on.

I remember that day very well, and it came very close (literally 2 doors down) to our house...damage to family and friends all over. Trauma everywhere.

But I remember it as a very GOOD thing also!

I remember that week, when the National Guard came in and cordoned off our neighborhood...I felt secure, and was thankful that those people would leave thier own families to help protect mine. I remember when the Salvation Army set up thier food wagon down the street, and fed us...those people (from Kalamazoo County, I think) left thier homes to feed us...I remember when we had a church service in our back yard (our church, St. Augustine, was destroyed)--people literally walked for a mile to get to us (because they weren't allowed in our neighborhood in cars).

I remember being struck by all of that--and beginning to think that 'the life I've been living has not been great'. I was a typical teenager then--partying as much as possible, caring very much about myself.

These events caused me to start thinking differently.

I believe that God's Holy Spirit was beginning to prepare me to take Jesus seriously and personally, for the first time in my life. Later that year, I personally accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and became a dedicated follower of His!

Romans 8:28 says that "God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him--who are called according to His purpose.". I believe that God caused that tornado to work for my good...and many others--as we began to 'think outside ourselves'.

For me, ultimately, He moved me into the Ministry...for others the path was different...but here's what I know: NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances are--tornado's, foreclosures, illnesses, accidents, breakups...God can and will turn it around--IF we invite Him to do so, and follow His lead.

Today, 30 years later--May 13, 2010--May YOU know God's presence in the midst of your trials...and may YOU turn to Him, so that HE can 'go to work' in your situation and turn it around!

Grace and Peace!