Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All About Relationships

Good Midweek to Everyone! First of all let me apologize for my tardiness. No excuses... just consumed by all that's swirling around me. This week I want to touch on something that can be so often overlooked by all of us and that is the power of love. And, I'm not talking about the romantic oooohhhhh/ahhhh makes my heart flutter love. I'm talking about love that is there when its hard, love that looks at the character of a person rather than their actions, love that is not judgmental, love that is not fair weather... unconditional love. I've had many conversations lately about relationships including friendships, family, and work. There seems to be a common thing that seems to arise in every circumstance where something is failing. Any guesses on what that is? The common theme is the devil. I find that in every broken family relationship, friend relationship, or work relationship there is an underlying jealousy or hatred that leads one party to attack the other. This verse came to me as I was exploring Proverbs recently:

"Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs." Proverbs 10:12

Do you agree? Well, I don't expect you to on the surface, but if you dive into the depth of this verse I think we could go many places with it. How about our Messiah laying down his life to cover our wrongs for one. But, I think there is another very important truth in this short verse. That truth is that if both parties chose to put "God" aka LOVE in the center He has you covered. The sad fact is that you can only control what YOU do and not the other person, right? Well, yes to an extent.

I'm going to go out on a limb again and issue a personal challenge to myself and all of you. After you read this email I want you to take a moment and pray about that relationship in your life that is not the way you would like it. I want you to pray that God will take control of the situation. Pray that God will give you the strength to approach the situation with the other person in a Biblical or Christian way. Pray that his words will flow from you as you interact with the one that challenges you most. Finally, ask that the hatred be covered by love. There's nothing like a fresh snow to make things look all bright and pretty. Let God make your interaction white.

I mentioned above that in a relationship you can only control what YOU do. Let's not forget that God controls all, knows all, loves all and is ALL! There is nothing too big for God. Talk to the other person. Tell them what you feel and how you plan to approach it. Invite God to the conversation and watch him work for you. And, don't get discouraged. This isn't on your clock, remember? God has a plan that is much bigger than any of us. Give him time to work miracles. And, cast satan out whenever you can. Remind that snake that we are ALL Children of God! And, we deserve relationships with our Brothers and Sisters accordingly!

Now for my last and possibly CRAZY request (nobody ever accused me of being normal). Hug that person when you get a chance. Yes, I said HUG THEM and tell them that you are going to make this work for both of you.

Love and Peace Always from Our Savior,

Ever Feel Weid?

Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Good Evening and regarding the title I'm not talking about stomach upset, physical ailments, or anything like that. Tonight I want to talk about being labeled or looked at like you are weird because of your faith. I'm starting a study on a book related to the subject this week, but wanted to give you my initial thoughts before diving in deeper.

We are constantly challenged by many competing forces in our lives to do things a certain way, speak about subjects a certain way, or just "be" a certain way. You know what? I DON'T FIT! I NEVER TRULY HAVE! Why? I can't answer that question, but can tell you that all my life I've been different. And, not always good different. I've been the subject of jokes, the topic of whispers, and someone that people just "don't get". Well, I guess my only explanation is that I've never fit into the box the world creates for me. I don't allow conventional wisdom and the interjection of Satan to tell me what I can do. Therefore, I'M WEIRD!

Many people will say that you can't make everyone happy. I say you can. They will say that you can't be everything to everybody... maybe not, but God can. They will say that you've failed by the standards of the world because you don't do what the world expects... You know what? "THEY" are wrong!

Tonight I want you to follow my lead and stop trying to be normal. I want you to take a step, take a chance and live your lives the way God would want. Don't be afraid to make your situation "happy". Did you hear that? I didn't say you necessarily have to change or change your situation, but you do need Christ. Put him in the center and enjoy the benefit of being Weird. Because Brothers and Sisters... Christ was also considered "WEIRD" to many ... so much so that they crucified him! But, we know the TRUTH!

Let's all start living like we are Children of God and being WEIRD is in!
Love and Peace from Our Risen Savior,

The Silent Few

Good Evening,
Hope everyone is off to a great start to the week. I apologize for taking last week off. I truly was on vacation. Tonight I want to talk about something I will call the silent few. Do you have anyone in your life that inspires you, assures you, and lifts you by their actions? If your like me you do and those around you might not even know their names. Why? Not because you don't care about them, but rather because you don't highlight their significance. Tonight I ask you to pray that all of us together can put these individuals more front and center in our lives and recognize them for the gifts from God that they are. It may seem awkward as first, but I encourage you to acknowledge them to their faces and to others in you life so they are "the best kept secret". They arte living sources of God's love. I can think of a bunch of verses, but let's consider 1 John 2:10 "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to
make him stumble".
Love in Christ,

Give Me the Ball

NLT Hebrews 10:35 "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! ".

Ever wonder what the Bible says about confidence? Well study your concordance and you will find great things. I recently came across this one. I found it very applicable to my own faith walk and have prayed over it much lately. This may come as a surprise to some of you that think I'm very secure and even cocky at times. The real me has been relegated to much less than that over the past 8 months. The real me has taken many blows and if it weren't for words from you my Brothers and Sisters and THE Word I would have believed that I was meant to stay where I've landed. The good news is I believe I'm finally getting my footing and ready to get back in the game. In the movie the Replacements there is a great quote. To paraphrase it, the coach says "when the game is on the line winners want the ball in their hands". So give me the ball! I'm ready to win this one.

Anybody else with me? Are you tired of being just average? Are you tired of being less than you can be? If you are, get in the game! Make things happen and be living examples of what being a Christian is all about. Yes, you heard me right! Being a Christian affords you confidence. Jesus has already won the battle and the devil is under our feet, but we have to BELIEVE IT! So I say BELIEVE, WALK, GRAB A HAND ... time for us to march! Time for us to win!

And If your fast enough you can tackle me before I do my touchdown dance ;o)

Love and Peace through Our Risen Savior,

Mountain Top

Good Evening!

Tonight I'm going to write about something that came to me over the weekend as I was relaxing at Snowshoe, WV. We had the tremendous opportunity to ride on the oldest steam powered train in the U.S. at Cass RR, go hiking, paddle boating, swimming, and just relax inside our condo. Now that in itself would be enough to write about as a "Mountain Top" experience, but it certainly wasn't the only one for me. And, in case you wondered you do not have to be on a mountain to have a "mountain top" experience. Its just a moment in your life when you feel that life doesn't get any better. A time when all is right with the world. They aren't things that you don't deserve, time that you've borrowed, or dreams. They are purely a small glimpse of just a piece of what Heaven will be. When did you have your last one? What did it feel like? And, finally ... Did you take the time to recognize that all of it came from the Creator and thank God for it?

Proverbs 10:22
The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.

I used the verse above to demonstrate that wealth is not always material. And, I'm guessing that your mountain top experience had little to do with money. How rich are you? Well, take a moment and think of your mountain top moment... let it sink in. Yep, you have more than you deserve, don't you? I know that I do. I don't deserve what I have. I don't deserve half of it or a quarter of it. But, I'm slowly learning not to question the gifts and blessings that are literally laid at my feet and to cherish them as I should. Guess what? I've been able to recognize many more blessings and even notice a couple more Mountain Tops... hope you can too.

To borrow from a card that Pastor John distributed at his last sermon at UALC "Jesus is the same, yesterday... today... and, tomorrow". And, we have been so richly blessed by his ultimate gift. Now, its time for us to hold onto the others and see them for what they are.

Love and peace from Our Savior and All Praise to Him for all of our blessings! And, may a mountain top experience be in your near future!

Take Courage

Good Evening. Tonight I want to start with a verse that my prayer partner shared with me shortly after Renewal and I find it coming back to me just when I need it.

Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it."
Ezra 10:4

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of you probably don't spend much time reading Ezra these days, right? Well, Thanks to Scott for finding this gem and helping me remember that our God is always there. As you all know I'm certainly no Biblical scholar, but I do try to read as much as possible and pray over what I read. This particular verse was one I really had to do some digging on though. I discovered from most commentary that this verse was speaking to Ezra carrying out God's Law and having the courage to do so with the support of other believers. There are many times I've found this concept repeated as I've read. Isn't it amazing how a verse or a chapter keeps coming back to you over and over? Isn't it amazing how God provides encouragement when we need it most?

Its hard being a Christian and walking the walk. I know I can't do it all the time. I struggle to do it half the time in my opinion, but I do always try. I always try to take courage and do what God would want. Why? Is it because of what I want to do? Not always, but because its what God calls me to do. I think if we all are honest we are unruly children at heart. We still do things, think about things, and talk about things that are not pure, but I'm hoping most of us are convicted by the Holy Spirit to make things right. I'm slowly learning that its not about not making mistakes. Its about trying to do better when you do. Even if that means a life long struggle with something. We will all eventually get it, right? Well, YES and its because God will make it so. We CAN hand it over to God if we just have enough faith to believe.

So tonight will you take a walk with me. Will you rise up and take courage and do it. Whatever your "it" is in the name of God, its time. Take heart. There are many of us here to support you! I know I am.

Love in Christ,

The Blessed and The Broken

Good Evening,
Tonight I wasn't exactly sure where I was going to go with this subject, but it kept being laid on my heart as I prayed before I sat down to write. Tonight I want to talk a little about those in our lives that walk with us, fall with us, cry with us, laugh with us, and share almost everything you can imagine with us.

Close your eyes for a moment and picture your top 3... Do you have them? Okay, now I want you to ask yourself two questions: Where are they most blessed? and Do you know what it is that is broken in them?

Pause, Pray.... Now, were you able to answer both questions? Yes, good for you! Keep talking to them, keep sharing, keep up the conversation... you are doing something very right and God is truly Blessing you. And if the answer is No, don't be upset because you have good company. I will join hands with you and tell you that I'm not often as knowing as I should be. Is it because I don't try or is it because I live among alot of good poker players... who knows? But, I'm learning I have to be better. I have to see the blessings in my Dearest Brothers and Sisters and I also need to know them well enough to know where they are broken. I need to reach down and meet them wherever they are. I need to wake up!

The past 6 months in many ways has been a good start at a wake up call for me. I've experienced extreme heartache, extreme depression, and extreme obstacles. But, the one thing that was a constant was that every time I was close to rock bottom one of you picked me up. Is that coincidence? No, THAT IS GOD! I firmly realize this and do not take it for granted. Because as I'm climbing out of this muck I'm becoming stronger, more faithful, and more of a witness to what the healing power of the Living Water is all about. I'm learning that not only is it not about me, its about recognizing how I can give every last ounce of what I have in me to others in Christ's name.

Many will say I'm weak because I want everyone to be happy. Many will say I'm weak because I convict myself severely when I hurt those around me. Many will say I'm weak because I get so very frustrated with all of the darkness and want the light. But, I'm not weak and neither are you if you care as much as I do. Because we are called to be more than wallflowers. We are called to do more than sit the bench. We are called to serve. We are called to witness. We are called to live like Christ would have us live. Yes, I'm VERY, VERY Blessed and Yes, I'm Broken too. And at the end of the day I will give this blessed and broken life to Jesus and pray that I've done just one thing to glorify his name. Will you join me? I'm looking forward to seeing you in the trenches and grasping your hand.

Matthew 5:9 NLT "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. "

Love and Peace Through Our Risen Savior


Good Evening!
Tonight I want to talk about shackles. You might ask what a shackle is? Well, Webster defines a shackle as something used to bind the hands and feet of prisoners. You may have even seen shackles in history books on slavery. Why do I want to talk about shackles? Because everyone of us is bound by them. Everyone of us is a slave to sin. I had the tremendous opportunity yesterday to play at my home Church in St. Clairsville, Ohio and Pastor Call delivered a wonderful, Spirit filled message about "New Life" and "There is no condemnation in Christ". Needless to say, I was inspired by it and carry it with me this evening as I type. Pastor Call made several great points in his sermon. One of these was that we are all slaves to sin and Jesus set us free!

After hearing that I wonder how many of us truly understand what that means? I wonder how many of us are willing to let go of our Shackles? I wonder how many of us are willing to truly believe we are free because we are believers in the Risen Savior? Well, I can t say that I'm always able to let go of my shackles, but I can say that its one of the things I've hoped to focus on this year. Those that know me know that I convict myself far greater than any man could. I'm probably a little hard on myself at times, but I for one am tired of being a slave to sin and its empty promises. I for one am tired of the devil dancing over my sorrow because of my failure. I for one am tired of watching those I love beat themselves over their failures when all they have to do is "Lift Up There Face" and see that Salvation is here... Salvation has come in Christ Jesus! Praise to his name!

Let's all pray together that we can give our lives fully to Christ, Lift up our faces and see the Salvation, Accept that we are broken, we will fail, but we can't stop trying. Let's pray that we truly believe there is no condemnation in Christ... Only open arms!

Now go and read Romans Chapter 8 and pray with me.
Love and peace through our Risen Savior,