Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Brotherhood of Believers

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Today I want to talk about Family. And, not worldly family ... I want to talk about the family of believers that we all are a part of. This came to me the other day when I casually referred to one of my Renewal Brothers as Brother. Someone said "They aren't really your Brother, why do you call them that?" ... OH BOY, what a question? Thanks God for putting that one on me :o) Well, I simply explained the bond that we all share in Christ and how although we may not be related by who are Fathers and Mothers are, but by the Body and Blood of our Risen King.

Praise to God that this recognition of who my Brothers and Sisters are exists in my mind and that I'm not afraid to show it or speak of it!

Why do I bring this up to all of you? Well that answer is simple as well. Because at the end of a very long day when you may feel beaten and battered by the world you need to always remember that you have Family to embrace you, love you, and pray for you. We are a brotherhood of believers. And together with our Heavenly Father, nothing can stop us, and nothing can overcome us.

And, yes... This Brother is always here for you!

1 Peter 2:17
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Love In Christ,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Almost Heaven

Good Afternoon All!

Well I'm heading to Snowshoe WV this weekend for some golf with the guys and started thinking about the saying "Almost Heaven, West Virginia". Well, I've traveled many places in this world and I would guess that West Virginia fits just as well as any other in my mind. The reason is because I don't think Heaven for me is as much about a place, but rather about experiences that God places in our lives.

When I was going through Men's Renewal at our Church a couple of years ago some of the men talked about Mountain Top Experiences and how they equated those to heaven. I guess I've had several of those. Here are just a few: sitting on the front porch with Grandpa Hank, coming home growing up to a warm cup of Mam's homemade vegetable soup on a bitter day, fishing on the Ohio River with my Dad, the moment I knew Michelle was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, the birth of both of our boys, and watching Henry do what is unexpected of a child with Cerebral Palsy over and over again. These are just some of the big ones for me and the larger glimpses at Heaven. Others are as simple as a smile from a stranger walking down the street, the laughter of a child, a hug from a friend, watching a baby sleep, or looking at someone you love and being able to communicate what you are feeling without saying a word.

God has such an incredible way of giving us those snapshots if we are open enough to consider them for the value that they bring. All too often I think we are lost in the craziness of life and fail to recognize these simple gifts. Today for just a moment I encourage you to look back on your life and remember all those life moments God has given you that would be called "Almost Heaven". And, what's even better is those can't even compare to the reality that it will be!

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ~ Philippians 3:20-21

Get ready to be called home some day by recognizing the preview God is giving you and enjoy every breath your have while you are here.

Love in Christ,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our God is Greater

Yep... You caught me I'm sneaking one in on you on a Saturday Night. Couldn't quite help myself. It was quite the day today. I feel very accomplished by all that we were able to get done and also very blessed by something that happened this morning. While traveling to Tim Horton's for Dad's breakfast with his boys the most amazing thing happened. A Chris Tomlin song came on the radio and Will started singing to it in the back seat. Believe it or not that's not the amazing thing. Will is extremely gifted when it comes to music (Must get it from his Mams ;o), but the amazing part was that he heard the chorus a couple times and then sang it perfectly by himself after the song was over. Tell me that's not a God thing ... just incredible! It inspired me and for that reason I have to get this out tonight.

The words to the Chorus are:
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God…

As I reflect on these I almost can see a flashback, flash forward, and flash sideways of my life. And in every instance there is one constant... God ... specifically ... God's Love. The kind of Love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He truly is greater than any struggle we face, stronger than any demon, held above everything that is or will be, and his power can heal even the most broken. How can you not want to shout with all that is in you "Praise Be To God" when you hear of this good news!

Harness this energy and use it for good! God is good all the time! I want to close tonight with an exercise that I learned from a sermon when I was a child at Thoburn United Methodist Church by Rev. Bush. Its really simple. Read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 and wherever you see the word "love" or "it" replace it with "I". If you can live with God's love in your heart you will never ever fail! You sort of have to play with the language, but you will get the drift once you start reading it. Take out your Bible and look it up and here is the way you could say it if you let God's love be the driver in your life:

"I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I am not rude, not self seeking, not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. I never fail.

Pretty cool isn't it? I've used this to help me regain focus many times and I hope it will help just one of you. I also hope you are enjoying your weekend as much as I'm enjoying mine.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Have you found your gifts yet?

Good Afternoon All,
Well it appears the rain has slowed down some and I won't be needing a boat to get to my car after all. Hope this email finds you out of the weather and safe and secure as well. This morning as I was driving into work I was thinking about the gifts that God gives each of us and a passage that I recently read in 1 Corinthians ...

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord" 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

Isn't it amazing that God places gifts into people at the perfect time and for the perfect purpose. I've been given more gifts than I would feel that I deserve and in my opinion don't use them nearly as much as I should for his purpose. But, I do recognize they are there and not of me, not because of me, and not necessarily for me. I just pray that I can do more with them in the future. How about you? What are your gifts? When did you last use them for good?

I would encourage all of you to take a deep introspective look at your gifts and would challenge you to find ways to use them to be more of a good and faithful servant. Also, if you know of one that I have that I don't use much that I have let me know ... let me know. Sometimes we are blinded by our own lack of confidence in our abilities. And, yes that is a huge obstacle for me to overcome believe it or not. More often than not, my swagger is only a front. I would also offer to tell you of the gifts that I see in you if you would like me to as your Brother in Christ. You all have amazing gifts. Some of you use them frequently and I'm in awe and some just shine at the right moments. At any rate, you all are a gift to me in one way or another and for that I'm forever grateful.

As we all continue on our journey I think we should occasionally remind one another of the good we do and the service we provide. Encouragement from a friend is one of the most powerful motivators. There is nothing that can stop us, but ourselves. We are after all children of the most powerful God. And he never lets us leave his hands.

Good luck on your journey to find your gifts and hopefully I'll get to see you in action using them soon! Love In Christ,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Living at Peace

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Today I would classify as a microcosm of life. Ups, Downs, Anger, Sadness, Joy, and Laughter ... No tears, but felt like it from the pain during my run this morning and the story of a tragic loss of a young St.Clairsville Boy that I read in the Times Leader. The reason behind most of the other emotions are the individuals I've interacted with today and things that they have said or done. Guess I pretty much ran the gamut today, didn't I?

I'm never surprised at just how passionately I react to things I've read or others actions. Some probably love it about me and some probably detest it, but at the end of the day, its just who I am. Its the way God made me. My own personal challenge on days like today is not to judge the actions of a few and to not let them cloud my perspective or lessen my joy. Now time for a verse that has been recurring in my thoughts over the last month or two by different things I've witnessed and by experiences of those close to my heart...

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" Romans 12:18, NIV

Now that's pretty heavy isn't it? That Paul sure had a way of challenging and convicting us didn't he? I cherish the words God put in his mouth and the wisdom that flows from them. As I said above I've looked at this one verse probably a hundred different times and what keeps hitting me is the message within that we as Christians need to do everything within our power and our being to be at peace with all of those in our lives. Further, it leaves the door open that others may just shut you out and not be a part of it. That's fine as long as we've done all we can. But, I challenge myself and all of you that when you think you've done it all ... take a step further and see if it does any good. After all, I've learned as many marathoners do that a marathon is not 26 miles ... its 26.2 and I will tell you the .2 is probably the hardest. So too is the final steps of reaching out to make peace with someone who you feel has wronged you in some way. You can't control others, but you do have the capacity to control yourself.

And, also leave open the possibility that now might not be the time. I have a least one person in my life that I had to cut loose back in December of 2007. Not because I didn't try, but because it wasn't the time to reconcile and it may not be for years because they simply weren't open to it. Someday, I will try to build that bridge again ... I haven't given up on our relationship, nor will I even if on the surface it appears so. I just have the discerning wisdom to know that God hasn't provided the opportunity yet and I need to be patient.

In closing, I would like you to think for a moment about those in your life that you are not at peace with and just what more you can do. Pray for them, pray for you, be patient, and let God do the heavy lifting!

Love in Christ,