26 February 2011

following ...

Some will judge you by who you follow, others by who follows you.


So thankful, thankful that Jesus did not make me clean up, before I could follow Him.


So grateful, grateful that He chose to follow us, from the throne room of heaven to the filth of the earth, to live among us, to give His life for us.


Let us pray, pray the people who follow us to Jesus are not only those who already know Him.


The Lord is not willing that any should perish ...
2 Peter 3:9

25 February 2011

running low ...

Happy Friday!
It is for me. It is definitely going much better than last Friday.

You see, last Friday started great. But somewhere toward the end of the day it took a less than wonderful turn. Twenty miles from home, waiting for my son on his college campus and – the car died.

It had been operating fine all day. But, that did not matter. I put the key in the ignition, like always. I turned the key, like always. And it did not start!

Immediately, I thought it must be the starter and tried to figure how I was going to get the van started and myself and my sons home.


I had just enough battery life on my cell phone to make one call. I sat for over an hour waiting for the tow truck. I waited another twenty minutes for someone to come pick me up.

I found out the next day that it was not the starter (Thank God). It was the battery! However, the cost of that battery was compounded by the cost of the tow.

Everything warns me when the battery gets low: my phone, my iPod, my camcorder -
Everything except my car!

No warning, no indication, just died ...

Actually, there might have been warning signs that I missed. After reading some, it appears that some of the more notable signs that your battery is dying include: Slow starts (which may require multiple attempts), dim headlights and problems with the instrument panel. It would have been good for me to know those things before I ended up stuck.

As usual, there was a spiritual truth that was being reinforced through my situations and circumstances. You see, spiritually we probably need to watch for some of those same indicators that our battery might need charging (or a complete overhaul):

Are you starting slow? Does it take multiple attempts to get going? Do you feel like you have to be ‘jump started’ to worship at church? Are you finding mornings difficult – hard to ‘start your days with praise’? Is it challenging to focus during your personal time with God? If so, it might be an indication that your battery might be getting low.

Have your lights dimmed? Are you noticing a resurgence of some heart attitude issues that you haven’t seen in a while? Do you find yourself complaining more than thanking? Are people commenting that you just don’t seem yourself? It could be time for a re-charge.

Are there other indicators sounding off – ones personal to you – which are screaming that something is headed for failure? Pay attention! It will often cost so much more personally if we ignore or miss the signs than what it would have cost if we heeded them.

Bad enough to get stranded physically –
But, let's avoid being stranded spiritually if we can.


Isaiah 40:31
‘… those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary …’
[or get stuck!]

Have a Wonderful Weekend! J 

23 February 2011

JOURNEY 201¦1 Embracing Imperfection

Thinking about this journey with my LORD …

Lately I have been listening to a song,
A song which is steadily becoming a favorite of mine.
I first heard it on Valentine’s Day on K-LOVE radio
‘Wouldn’t Change a Thing’ by Matthew West
He composed the song in response to a love story,
A love story sent in by a K-LOVE listener. The story was touching.
Something in that song has resonated with me ...

To me that song spoke to my life -
It captured my journey with God, made possible through Christ


As it played and tears filled my eyes,
I thought about my life up to this point.
I thought about the current symphony of situations in my life,
The chorus of notes that sound quite different,
From the way that I envisioned them -
So many have changed from the way I had penned them in my mind.
Yet they are still making a beautiful sound!

Somehow, Matthew West perfectly captured the thoughts of my heart,
It was his voice and his words ... but it was my song,
A beautiful song of gratitude that I sing to my LORD and KING!

Sometimes the journey with God
is
'perfectly imperfect'


A perfect God embraces imperfection ...
Amazing grace made possible only by the blood of Jesus.

A perfect God works with imperfection,
With imperfect situations, with imperfect beings, with imperfect me...
And He still works perfect wonders!

He works everything together for the good ...
He makes every moment worth it ...
And I wouldn't change a thing!

Take a listen ...
Truly listen ...
I pray it will encourage you, even as it continues to encourage me ...

17 February 2011

Seven Important Pointers for Worshippers ...

I read an article this week by J. Lee Grady,
'Seven Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Worship Leaders' http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones


Excellent Article! I appreciate Mr. Grady’s perspective. I have not seen it all when comes to Sunday morning drills. I have been at the same church for ten years with the same worship leader and an amazing worship experience every time. Still I recognize that his observations are important points for worship leaders to consider. However, it also made me think of seven important pointers for worshippers.


1. Come with a shout! Release worship leaders from the duty of ‘pumping you up to praise’. If the act of salvation is not enough to stoke your fires of spiritual passion, to keep you shouting day after day (especially when we come together to worship the LORD), it is doubtful that the prompting of any person will achieve that objective.


2. Create content. It is important to sing songs with content – and that are theologically correct. However, it is also important to create content. During the chorus of “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!” or “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” you have a perfect opportunity to sing your own song to the LORD, ‘I love You Jesus’ or ‘There’s nobody like You’. By all means, do not be a distraction – it is corporate worship after all – but do make the songs personal to you.


3. Don’t look for a concert. True worshippers worship rather than observe. We want the worship team to play skilfully, but they are not there to entertain us. Our focus is Jesus – not the worship leader, the worship team or other worshippers.


I once had someone comment on how much I seem to enjoy worship. If I am honest, I was taken aback as I wondered why they were watching me during worship instead of focusing on Jesus. I simply responded, ‘Close your eyes … you will be amazed by how much you see.’


4. Repetition is not always a bad thing. There are times when repetition is just that – meaningless verbalizations done for the effect of sound or to draw a reaction from the congregation. However, there are times when repetition becomes a vital step in helping someone to move past lip service and head knowledge to heart inscription and life application.


5. Don’t be too sensitive. We certainly do not want to create deafness by bursting the eardrums of church attendees. However, as a worshipper, let’s not be hyper-sensitive. There are times for softness and times to ‘crank it up’. Taking into account my pre-Christ and current Christian life, I have been to sporting events, parties, clubs and concerts and have never heard anyone say, ‘Please keep it down, it is too loud.’ Certainly there is a greater cause for all of our resounding noise than the raucous which is raised at a football game, concert or party.


6. Learn the lyrics. It is great to have the words up so that all can follow along (especially for visitors). And proofreading, that is a must. However, [and this is for the regular church attendees] unless it is a brand new song that is just being introduced into your praise and worship experience, learn the lyrics. If we can walk out of the grocery store humming the ‘hook’ to some secular song that we never heard before, surely we can learn the words to the chorus of the worship songs that we sing.


7. Honor the Worship and the Word. There is nothing ruder than a individual who repeatedly shows up fifteen minutes into praise and worship, ‘sliding past’ other worshippers and disrupting the experience. Be present, engaged and on time for all aspects of the service. Worship does not end with the last song and it does not begin with the Word. It begins with us – and then the worship, the word, the greeters, the ushers, the teachers, the nursery workers and parking lot attendants all become part of our worship experience. But, we each have an individual responsibility.


Like Mr. Grady, I am not a worship leader, and you would not want to hear me on a keyboard or with a microphone. But I believe we would honor God and the leaders He has placed in our lives if we applied these principles to our praise.

16 February 2011

JOURNEY 201¦1 'Day in the life …'

BUZZZZZZ!!!!! Ugh, there goes the alarm. Someone must have messed with time, you are already running twenty minutes late. How did that happen? No time for casual conversation and definitely no time for intimacy. Just enough time to shout out a list of everything that you need done today.

You hop in the shower, get dressed and fix lunches. Did I sign that paper that you needed for class? What time is practice over tonight and what would you guys like for dinner? Forget it, don’t have time, I’ll figure it out. I have to get going.

Surprisingly traffic is lighter than normal. It would be a great morning commute if not for that one idiot – I mean individual – that just cut you off. You’d share a few choice words with them but that would not be very Christ-like. So, you just rehearse them in your mind as if He can’t read it.

You make it to work – amazingly on time – and set about the daily grind. You hate the job but it pays the bills.

Then you get a call: ‘How’s your day going? I was thinking about you? Do you have a minute to talk? I was thinking maybe we could do lunch today?' Your mental response … ‘Are you kidding?!? Don't have time ... way too busy!’ Your verbal response … ‘I don’t know, I’ll think about it, but I can’t talk now.’

About noon, you have a surprise visitor for lunch.

‘You never got back to me so I thought I would surprise you and we could spend lunch together.’ You barely acknowledge their presence and respond sheepishly, ‘Yeah, I meant to get back to you. Today is really not good for me. I have two meetings this afternoon and I need to spend lunch preparing for them. Their response is kind, as always. ‘That’s ok. I’ll see you when you get home. I love you.’ Uncomfortable with public displays of affection you respond, ‘Ok, I’ll see you at home.’

You muddle through the rest of your day, fight the evening traffic, pick up the kids, decide you are not cooking tonight, take a quick pass at the drive-thru for some fast food, tear into the driveway and bolt through the front door. Finally, you’re home! Maybe now you can get a break.

However, as soon as you walk through the door you hear,
‘How was your day?’

You think, ‘Do I really have to talk about it? I would much rather forget it.’ However, that thought is interrupted by the ring of your cell phone. Your friend absolutely has to talk to you right now. Yet someone is still waiting for your response to the ‘How was your day question?’. And they keep on waiting while you mouth, ‘I’ll talk to you as soon as I get off the phone.

Forty minutes later, the call has ended, everyone has inhaled their dinners and you turn your attention to the couch. Someone is still waiting for you and they gently say, ‘Come sit down, maybe we could spend some time together for a while tonight.’

Your exasperated response,
‘Yes, OK, but let me watch some television first and unwind a bit.’

One hour turns into three and then morphs into an evening nap. About 10:30 pm you are awakened by the dog. He desperately needs to go outside and neglecting his call is out of the question. So you get up and address the matter.

You climb the stairs up to your bedroom and as soon as you walk through the door you hear ...

‘You’re up! I didn’t want to wake you since you were resting so peacefully. The kids are asleep and I was thinking maybe you and I could …’

You interrupt that thought with a response that goes something like, ‘I am just too tired, I have such a busy day tomorrow, I have got to get some sleep. I promise, we’ll chat in the morning.’

You go to sleep.

But someone is not sleeping. No, someone is sitting up, watching over you like they do every night; desiring quality time, meaningful conversation and intimate moments – but facing yet another night of unfulfilled expectation. Even when you do make time for private pleasures, it comes across as the laborious duty that you think it is. Each time it is the same music, same garments, same tired and untidy location, same position and the same disinterest – unless of course it involves your personal needs and satisfaction. Each morning they get time only if you feel like it. Each evening they stand in line behind the kids, the chores, your friends, the television and even the dog.

Not quite the way He envisioned it when He gave His life for you.

Now, who did you think I was talking about?

‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus Christ]; that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16

He gave His all -
Do we give our all?
Do we give our most?

‘This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave His life for us …’
I John 3:16

Why not show some love back?

Trailing on last week’s message,
‘Is He a priority in your day and life?
How do you demonstrate that to Him?

Why not sing a new song, an original one that you pen for Him from the depths of your heart, a new garment of praise? He doesn't mind if it isn't in key. It doesn't even have to 'flow'. Sincerity is all that He seeks.

Maybe a few lunch dates are in order – where you praise and worship & pray and listen & read and learn & sit and enjoy His presence.

Perhaps a change of location is in order. I am reminded of the time I took a break – some quality time for me and Jesus. I took the day off work, spent the day at the beach with Him, and got a hotel room where I could spend uninterrupted time praising, reading, praying, worshipping and just relaxing with the LORD. Don’t have the finances? It might be a good idea to get everyone out of the house for a couple of hours so you can have some quality alone time with Him.

Try a new position – when was the last time you lied prostrate in His presence?

Are you more concerned with giving or receiving?
Let’s concentrate more on Him and His will and less on us and our needs.

Just some food for thought –

Felt like we needed to camp out here for another week –
Making sure that our journey with God actually includes God
Time with Him, quality time with Him, priority time with Him.


Have a Blessed Week!

11 February 2011

JOURNEY 201¦1 PLANNING pt. 2

What a wonderful way to end the week – with friends, pursuing and journeying with God! Did you see JOURNEY 201¦1 PLANNING pt. 1, did you do the exercise?


As I stated earlier this week, I first did this exercise in 2006 when I started college. It was supposed to help me figure out where my time was spent and how to appropriately plan for everything that I wanted to accomplish in my educational journey. Well, once I did the exercise, God gave some wisdom for my spiritual journey by reminding me of a conversation that we had in 2005. It went something like this:


God said, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and you will see miracles unfold in your life.’ It made sense but I was already doing that and more. So my response was, ‘I am bringing the whole tithe.’


Then God said, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and you will see miracles unfold in your life.’ And I responded, ‘I do bring the whole tithe?!’


And God said again, ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and you will see miracles unfold in your life.’ And I responded, ‘I do … bring the whole tithe … and offerings too!!!!!’ Honestly, I was taken aback and a bit offended.


However, and needless to say, it is never a good idea to argue with the LORD.  If you and God are having a discussion about a matter, there is a 100% probability actuality that you are wrong and He is right!


Back to the discussion, and God's final response ...


 ‘I give you 24-hours per day. Two hours and twenty-four minutes are mine straight off the top. Time with Me – not serving in ministry, speaking at conferences, preparing for lessons or doing things – Time with Me. Anything you would like to do above and beyond that, I will gladly accept as an offering.’


OUCH! Now I don’t know how God speaks to you, but He speaks to me plain and direct. He knows exactly what I need to hear and how I need to hear it. PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that a tithe of time is a requirement of God for everyone. I can only take what He said to me and do my very best to follow His instruction for me – a matter of priorities.


HOWEVER, I will ask you this one question in light of the exercise that we did this week. It is the same question that was asked of me – the same question that I asked my Bible study group when I did this exercise with them back in 2006.


 Where is God in your day?

It is hard to journey with God if we will not spend time with God. It is impossible to journey into all that God has prepared and leave Him out of the process, for He alone knows the destination. And He will never provide something - a dream, a home, a ministry, a mate, a child - that will make Him unneccesary in your life.


Jeremiah 29:11 AMP reminds us of God’s promise, ‘For I know the thoughts and plans [my emphasis] that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.’ This verse gets quoted all the time.


However, quoted far less often are two verses which immediately follow that verse: ‘Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart [my emphais].’ Jer. 29:12-13 AMP


Our relationship with God must have an overwhelming presence in our day – if we are to know Him, to become like Christ and experience all that He has prepared. And our relationship with Him goes beyond religious practices, ministry obligations, Christian television, preparing lessons and endless conferences. It is about spending quality time with Him, making Him the priority in our lives.


 And we must be intentional about it – not religious or robotic – INTENTIONAL. Whether it is two minutes, twenty minutes or two hours – we must ensure that the time we spend with God is priority and quality time.


• When we fast – do we take time to pray?
• When we pray – do we take time to listen?
• Are we interested in what is in His hand and what comes by His hand?
• Or are we fulfilled with the pleasure of simply holding His hand?
• Do we read His Word to check a spiritual practices 'to-do box' ?
• Or do we study and meditate upon His Word in order to know Him?
• Are we more focused on the destination than we are in the journey with Him?


There are dozens of questions. Some will be the same for all of us. Some will be unique to areas that we need to work on individually. Whatever the case, take the time to consider where God is in your schedule and where you would like for Him to be.


‘Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!’  Proverbs 4:5 MSG


In all of the planning and purposing [even what we deem kingdom work], let’s not lose God. Rather, let us get understanding that no God-journey can be experienced without God. It is difficult indeed to be in the center of His will without Him being in the center of your day, in the center of your life.


No condemnation – there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ (Rom. 8:1)


If we are honest, we can all develop in the area of keeping our relationship with God the number one priority in our lives. I know I can. But I also know that I have come a long way from where I was. I am seeing miracles unfold daily – just like He promised. However, most important of all, I know Him … more than I’ve ever known Him … and I have a desire to know Him more, to become like Him and to make Him known.


'What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving.' Mt. 6:33 MSG


And what is He giving?
He is giving what He has always been giving – Himself


‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life [my emphasis]. ’ Jn. 3:16 MSG


He did all this so we could experience this journey called life, with Him, as He purposed it in the beginning. And the most important thing in planning our daily and lifelong journey with the LORD ... Seeking Him!


‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,
and live righteously …’
Mt. 6:33NLT

10 February 2011

Fight the 'right' fight ...

Lupus - a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body)

With lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, the part of the body that fights viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally the immune system produces antibodies that protect the body from unhealthy invaders.

However, with an auto-immune illness like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders and healthy body tissues and creates auto-antibodies which attack and destroy healthy tissue.

I am in the middle of a lupus flare-up.
During the month of December, I got sick for the first time in three years. And my body did exactly what it was supposed to do – it worked to fight off the virus. However, something else happened immediately following this illness. It triggered a lupus flare where my body is no longer fighting germs … it is fighting me!

As I drove this morning and reflected on my current health situation – a thought came to me. I thought about spiritual warfare – how we are admonished in I Timothy 6:12 to, ‘Fight the good fight of the faith …’

I also thought about how easy it is to get off track.

Similar to the way our bodies are designed to fight regular illness, we are equipped spiritually to fight ungodly invaders. However, like lupus, there is that potential to lose focus and go into overdrive – where we attack good things – like the people in our lives.

We must remember …
‘We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ Ephesians 6:12 ESV

We must fight the good fight …
But we also must fight the right fight!

09 February 2011

JOURNEY 201¦1 PLANNING pt.1

Last week was wonderful …
I had an opportunity to spend some time with friends – good food, amazing cake and the absolute best company! It was also great to think on some of those questions from last week and truly examine my commitment levels when it comes to my walk with Christ. I hope you had a great week as well!

This week’s journey note is two-fold:
* First is today’s post with a brief 'project'.
* Then I will follow it up with another post this Friday.

When I started to think about planning in the midst of the journey, my thoughts immediately went back to my first experience with college. And, while I just turned forty last month, I did not have to think back as far as some might think. You see, I started college in 2006 at the age of thirty-five, as a freshman.

And, as a freshman, it was mandatory that I take a university studies course. The intent was to ensure the success of incoming freshman. And, one of the first assignments had to do with time management and planning. Part of that exercise was to learn how to manage my time. I had to take a schedule, similar to the one that I have attached to this post, and record my day.
Now, if I am honest, I thought the assignment was a bit of a waste of time. As an AVP with a Fortune 500 company, I lived by my planner. I scheduled meetings, coaching sessions, medical check-ups, appointments for the children,  and even allotted times for me to focus on my professional development – if it wasn’t penciled-in, it did not happen. So I questioned why I had to do this – wondering why I could not get some sort of credit for life experience. Nevertheless, I submitted to the process – not like I had much choice – and I did the assignment.

Now, I would like to share the assignment with you as well:
1. Take a sheet of paper with timeframes noted similar to the sheet I’ve attached.
2. Write down everything that you did YESTERDAY

That’s it! If your day starts earlier or ends later, that is fine. Just make sure you record everything. Then you hold onto the sheet until Friday when I’ll post our next Journey Note. Be honest on the sheet – only you will see it and I promise it will help you in your journey with God!

Have a great day … I’ll be talking to you Friday!

God Bless You…