Saturday, January 1, 2011
Firsts....Wow this word has so many expectations attached to it, doesn't it? As we begin our journey into the New Year, we come into the First of the Month with many expectations and hopes to change something about our lives to make it better than the previous year; but is all the emphasis placed in proper order?
Think about it, as infants our parents go bananas over First Steps we took. As a child, we want to be First at nearly everything: first one with the newest, hottest toys - first with a new outfit that is in style, first to get our driver's licenses amongst our friends. We dream of getting our first boyfriend/girlfriend, a first kiss, etc....so much emphasis is placed on being First!
Our Nation celebrated being the First to land a man on the moon; there are First Ladies, First throws at a baseball game...First Base. The list goes on and on...but, on the contrary; God gets overlooked and placed very low on the priorities most hold for their lives.
We cannot expect a life full of blessings without first recognizing the source of all blessings! The very first, FIRST is the Alpha and Omega. Before anything or anyone existed, God did and will long after everything and everyone is gone. So, imagine how life may be different for all of us, if we put ourselves last and God FIRST... It's one of the rare things He asks of us; and in doing so, He promises:
"Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and all His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33
As we focus on making God FIRST, we no longer need to worry about anything. He will provide whatever answer you are seeking, so long as it is HIS Will when you simply SEEK Him FIRST. I don't know about you, but I've certainly tried things my own way for way too long and got nowhere. Yet, every time I've let God lead my life completely - nothing but good has come out of it. Will you join me today in seeking HIM first in everything? Will you turn everything over to His control and let Him be First with the time He allows you to have? Will you make Him your First priority each week and gather with the Body of Christ to offer Him your praise and thanksgiving? Will you trust Him with the car, child, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, groceries, etc....
** Today's blog was inspired by the Message Series, "Firsts" from LifeChurch.tv - You can watch this Message Series all week long at http://live.lifechurch.tv/times **
Thanks for reading! I look forward to doing Life with you through out the year and hearing how God is speaking into your life throughout 2011.
It's been said, that we are the Church. Not the building we may assemble on each Sunday Morning or Saturday Night, but us - you, me, your Pastor/Priest, neighbor, best friend...we are the Church! I'm not sure what image that strikes up in your mind as you meditate on that, or if your mind can even begin to wrap around the depths of what it really entails; but, I'm challenging both myself and anyone who may be reading this, to take to heart what being the church really means.
Recently, a fellow LifeGroup member pointed out a certain members need that was intended to be a request for others to just pray for her situation. She has been feeling a calling from God to go on a year long mission to Africa, and would be living on a ship the better part of a year and serving in the local communities near where the ship would dock temporarily. Long story short, it was mentioned, that with the amount of members that post or were part of the group page in one way or another; that if each member, just pitched in $20 a week for just 8 weeks - collectively, we as a group could provide this members financial assistance to do what God is calling her to do for an entire year.
That really struck a chord in my heart and got me thinking about what God's Word says about who the Church is, and just exactly, what we are called to do as "the Church." And what we are to do, is to care for the needs of one another - be it with time, money, assistance in completing a task that is too overwhelming for the one needing help to do alone, etc....we are not called to go through life alone; looking only after our own well being. Because, in all honesty, ALL good things come from God alone. Yes, you may have good health, a great job, an awesome family etc...but at any moment, God can chose to strip you of those very things you pridefully call "yours."
We are not our own - we were paid for when Jesus chose to lay down His life on the Cross for us. He paid a debt He didn't owe, to allow for a pardon that we could have never earned. Jesus' sacrafice on that Cross allowed us to have eternal life with God upon our exiting from this earth, and not one of us know the day our number will get pulled. So, instead of wasting the resources that God has allowed us to possess and focussing so much on what we can acquire in this life - may we all let God speak directly to our hearts, and show us opportunities and people that our resources can help and leave a legacy behind for future generations to follow.
So, in closing - when's the last time you had a heart check from God? Close your eyes, drift back to a time of life when things were simpler - when you had less stuff to preoccupy you, and were instead, rich on relationships with others. It felt much better, wouldn't you agree? Will you join with me, in making 2011 a year of being more Others focussed? Will you commit to asking God to show you opportunities to bless others in need, regardless of what resource it is that He prompts you to give? Will you watch less TV, and instead, reach more lives in your community and around the globe?
Let me hear your comments, prayers, concerns. I look forward to truly doing LIFE with you and for you in 2011. Our time is never guaranteed, let's make it count for Christ and Community!
Posted by Unknown at Saturday, January 01, 2011
Monday, July 26, 2010
No one ever said that living a life for Christ was going to be easy. Did they? As I am introduced to more people along my journey in life, it seems like I find more and more of us Christ Followers with very real struggles of our own. In all actuality, I think I've learned that just as many Christ Followers suffer from many of the things, those that have not yet chosen to follow Christ, also battle in their daily lives. The thing is, some are honest about it, yet so many more of us try to wear masks and pretend there are not things bothering us inside.
So, with the great prompting of a friend I highly value and respect, I've chosen to share my current battle with the world, in hopes that together the information I share with you, may indeed be a help to others. My battle began at the tender age of 10. Sure it began as an innocent effort to look cool around the older kids, to maybe even emulate my Father and other family members. Who knows why it really began, but what started as an innocent acting out, turned into a life long addiction to smoking cigarettes.
At first it would be only a few a week, then I learned the patterns of many others and found that many of them smoked to calm their nerves or de-stress from life's crazy turmoil. So, in no time at all my casual few smokes a week became a few smokes a day, then at one point of life, turned into 2 packs a day. Funny thing about addictions is that no one really considers themselves addicted to anything; that is, until they make that attempt to quit whatever it is they're "not" addicted to.
As of this writing, cigarettes have been a constant companion of mine for 33 years now. That's very frightening, when you factor in that I'll only be 43 years old this September. So for more than two-thirds of my life, I have been inhaling all the toxins and tar that are going to ultimately kill me, if I don't completely turn them over to God to take away from me. That's a harsh but true reality! Don't take my word for it though, go to any Cancer ward in a hospital near you and see it for yourself. What's even more frightening to me personally, is that I lost my mother, older brother, aunt and uncle, ALL to Cancer and yet I struggle to surrender my hold on them.
How do you finally give up an addiction that has held you enslaved for so long, willingly? You begin to ask yourself questions like: Do I want my daughter to have to watch her Daddy die one day because of an unwillingness to give up a stupid cigarette? If I want to see my daughter one day become a woman and marry and start a family of her own, what am I going to do to make sure I quit? Do I want my future grandchildren robbed of the joy of knowing their grandparents, as was the case for my daughter? And those are just a random sampling of the things that goes through the mind of a man wanting to truly LIVE again and enjoy every day of his life, honoring God and ensuring he'll be around as long as possible for the one thing on this earth that means everything to Him: My Daughter!
The journey of life so far, has not been a pleasant one for the most part - there have been more downs than ups; more loss than gain, more pain than joy; but I've found that we can use anything in our life to continue enabling ourselves into believing why we should keep doing things as normal...my goal going forward today is to be smoke free first for God (my body is HIS temple after all), second my daughter (so that she can have as many good years with me as possible) and lastly myself (to finally go an entire day not dependent on the nicotine, but rather being FULLY dependent on God Alone).
So, what's your struggle? Will you be honest about it? Will you also consider joining me in this journey to recovery? Let me hear what your battle is and who knows; maybe just maybe, God will allow us to be the mutual encouragers and supporters of one another to cross that finish line once and for all, completely FREE!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Before the earth existed, before sound came booming to the planet, before one blade of grass sprouted up from the earths soil....Wisdom existed! Who or what is Wisdom? I'd suggest that Wisdom is none other than Christ Himself.
He is the Alpha and Omega (Beginning and the End) - the same yesterday, today and forever...He was once dead but three days later he rose from the grave and IS ALIVE TODAY!
What great promise and hope is found there in those realities of Christ? The same one who was before all else and will be long after it all; is the same one that asks us to SEEK HIM, FOLLOW HIS WAYS and RECEIVE REWARD in Heaven for simply letting Him love us, shape us, use us, clean us up, teach us...all so God may be Glorified.
Scripturally speaking, I am only going to state the obvious, directly from the Word of God:
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the Lord .
36 But those who miss me injure themselves.
All who hate me love death."
We either Love Him in an ALL in capacity or we HATE Him with an ALL OUT tendency...which side do you find yourself walking today?
Flattery, temptations, ego stroking, walking blindly........
If wisdom is light to our feet and the very thing which will guide us, then darkness must be our ignorance to what's going on behind the scenes as we are being tempted to sin, and the sure path to destruction.
Look in your local newspapers crime blotter, turn on your local news, go to the Associated Press website online and what do you see concurrently? MOST thefts, break-ins, robberies, rapes, abductions, vandalism etc happen when? At NIGHT. This further illustrates a life not being lived by the guidance of the wisdom and discipline of our Lord.
Why does so much crime occur from dusk on? Because just like us when we are "trying" to play with sin and play Christian...there is a perception that what is done in darkness is less easy to detect and bring about prosecution.
BUT, when we are talking about living for God; the harsh reality is that there is NO darkeness that God can't see into. What you think you're getting away with at the time, HE SEES and will make you give an account for.
The thief predominantly steals and robs or kills at NIGHT because it's harder for them to be identified; and they feel their chances of getting away with something are greatly increased. When do we find ourselves the most tempted to listen to the voice of the seducer or seductress? When things in our life seem dark...lonely, misunderstood, unloved.
It's in the dark times of our day to day life that we fall prey to being tempted and losing the battle. However, if we walk at all times in the Light of God's Word, cling to HIS wisdom and seek to become more like Him daily....we are more in tune with God instead of all the flashing lights, pretty people, fast cars and big money of this world.
Let us strive more daily to reflect HIM in how we interract with others, choices we make, things we think on, words we speak, jokes we tell or allow to be told to us, the music we listen to, what we allow our eyes to take in during that movie or television show, etc....Lord we hunger for your Wisdom and Choose to follow YOUR ways and have LIFE....REAL life.
Pride, Adultery, Ignorantly discarding Wisdom for Guidance, Playing with Fire expecting no retaliation or punishment in the end. These are all ways of foolishness that ultimately end up with a price to be paid.
We read about the things that the Lord despises: a lying tongue, haughty eyes, hands that kill the innocent, the heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness that pours out lies and a person who causes discord among his/her own family.
If we want to remain strong in our faith; able to maintain a strong foundation against the wickedness of the world....if we wish to have any hope of finishing the race of life in a manner pleasing to God: we cannot take wise counsel lightly friends. Wisdom will put light to our pathway in the darkest of times. It will comfort us while we sleep and when we wake again; will lead us on the right paths in life that are filled with real peace, real knowledge and real endurance to finish the race well.
Lord we ask that you continually flood us with your Lamp of Truth. Shut our mouths and open our ears to truly HEAR your Wisdom. Humble us to accept that your ways are Higher than our ways and your Understanding of what's to come in our lives is much greater than we can see in our limited vision down here. Activate within each of us the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us on the righteous path of life and to throw up City Walls to block us from going the wrong way in life. Lead us to be humble, wise and obedient to all the teachings we receive from you; be they in your Word or through a loved one, trusted friend or local Pastor.
We love you Lord and seek you more daily that you may be Glorified in ALL we say, think and do.
Proverbs 5 shows both warning and consequence for continuing to be hard headed, trying to do everything on our own; not measuring all we approach with the Wisdom and guidance from God through this life we journey in.
We are reminded not to take Love for granted; to cling to the wife of our youth and never lose sight of her true beauty.
We're told to steer clear of the woman who speaks with words of honey, else our house be ravaged and our well water tainted or poisoned.
When we're not following the loving discipline of the Lord, when we're not walking in Wisdom and obedience; there will be consequences for our actions. As the passages put it bluntly: why throw away all the blessings of God for temporary and foolish satisfaction; when that very thing that brought you short term pleasure is going to be the thing to take you down, destroy you, rob you of your joy and even potentially kill you.
Each passage and each book that we are journeying through together only reveals to me more and more, just how much God truly does love us and wants to see us live productive, happy and confident. Not that we may boast of anything we've done; but that HIS love would shine through our lives, the world notice and HE be glorified through it all.
As with any sin, we are warned to RUN from whatever may lead us to stumble. If you have a problem gawking at men or women, get away from them as fast as you can. Tempted to gamble? Don't go to convenient stores that sell lottery tickets. Have a led foot behind the wheel of your vehicle? Drive a Yugo. Hahaha the list goes on and on, but you get the point here I hope: if anything COULD cause you to stumble in your pursuit of right living for God, lace up your Adidas tightly, look straight ahead and RUNNNNNNNNNNNNN BABY RUNNNNNNNNNN!