Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year in the Books

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of 2012. The year seems to have gone by so fast with 2013 looming big tomorrow. I'm so thankful for God's faithfulness over this past year. He has protected, provided and loved as only He can. He's done things I didn't expect Him to do as well as not doing things I did want Him to do. Regardless of anything, He knows what's best :) I'm looking forward to 2013 and seeing everything the Lord has planned. Today I choose to thank the Lord ahead of time for this upcoming year. I choose to follow Him wherever He may lead. I choose to trust Him in everything. I'm going to fear the Lord and not others. I'm going to put what He thinks above what others think. I'm going to live 2013 as His child. I can't help but think of what Psalm 9:9-10 promises me, "The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you." Thank you Lord for 2012 and the new year :)
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Concealing Sin Is Never A Good Choice

A fresh cup of coffee in my hand and the pages of my Bible open on the counter. What a way to start a day :) Immediately one of my favorite verses becomes front and center. Proverbs 28:13 says, "People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy." There are some very important truths to be found in this verse. Why do people think that concealing or hiding their sins is the best option? If you've ever done this, you know how it can eat away at you and even imprison you in a sense. It's easy to believe the lie that no-one else knows or will find out, yet this thinking is merely a trap. We must take action and do what the verse tells us to do. We must first confess and acknowledge our sin. This is followed by our turning away from it. This turning away is called repentance. It's a change of mind and heart which produces a change in behavior and attitude. When you choose to confess your sin and receive His forgiveness, then you must walk away from that sin. Too many people confess their sin but unfortunately aren't willing to walk away from it. What an incredible opportunity before us. Confess our sins, receive God's forgiveness, turn from our sins, and last but not least we receive His mercy. There's something so beautiful about the mercy of God. And today this mercy is fully available to you and me :) Are you ready to receive His mercy today? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

4x4's Don't Make You Invincible...

A white Christmas is what we had yesterday and it continues snowing this morning :) I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day with your family and loved ones? As you can imagine, with the snow and freezing temperatures come dangerous road driving conditions. Last night the freeways were closed due to these dangerous road conditions. What always amazes me are people who think because they drive a big 4 wheel drive vehicle that they can drive however they want, regardless of how bad conditions may be. It's as if they see themselves as invincible. Yet so many wrecks, slide-offs and injuries involve 4x4 vehicles. I think this false sense of security unfortunately puts many people at risk. Being in a 4x4 sliding on ice is certainly no better than any other vehicle. I think the same can be true when it comes to life. Too many people rely on their own self-sufficiencies thinking that they're going to be fine. Unfortunately this isn't the case and couldn't be farther from the truth. I thought I was a pretty self-sufficient person but was I ever wrong. I recognized my great need for a Savior. And ever since I've been living for Him, my life has been completely different. Just because you have a 4x4, don't be fooled into thinking you're invincible. And just because you are self-sufficient, don't be fooled into thinking you don't need a Savior. Psalm 16:1, "Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust."

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Best Gift Ever


It's Christmas tomorrow! The most incredible day of the year. But as you unwrap your gifts don't forget  the great gift God gave you. John 3:16 tells us, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." He gave us the most incredible gift anyone could ever ask for, His Son as a our Savior. I know that tomorrow will be full of excitement and anticipation. However, don't allow the getting of gifts overshadow God's gift to us. Take a moment and thank Him for all He's blessed you with and His great love for you. Tomorrow, some gifts won't fit, some won't work, and even others won't be appreciated. But the gift of God's love always fits, always works, and when understood, is always appreciated. Have a very Merry Christmas and thank you God for the best gift I've ever received, your Son Jesus Christ :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What Some Call Limitations Others Call Opportunity

I can never write enough about people who don't allow limitations in their life to hold them back. Sometimes we allow the smallest opposition or excuse to prevent us from doing things. While running, just because I'm tired, do I stop? I sure don't. I came across this amazing clip yesterday which is so inspiring. When it all comes down to it, no limitation should prevent us from doing things we'd like to. Philippians 4:13 tells us, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." To think about how many people don't try something because of what they view as limitations, excuses or even fear of failure. Don't let these things prevent you from trying things. And please take a moment to watch this clip and be encouraged as I was :)  http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2012/12/21/one-armed-basketball-player-baffles-opponents/1785995/

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rejoicing Crushes Jealousy and Envy

With Christmas right around the corner, we will all be involved in both the giving and receiving of gifts. You will give others gifts that they are going to be thrilled about. While others may receive gifts that you wished were for you. Jealousy and envy is something that's a constant battle in our culture. How come they got that? How come that happened for them? How come they get to go there? I think these are questions everyone asks themselves from time to time. In a culture that's always into bigger and better, sometimes we can lose sight of those things that are precious. This Christmas, when others get things you could only dream of getting, choose to rejoice with them. Don't allow jealousy to worm its way in. When others get to go places you'd love to go, rejoice with them. When others seem to be blessed like crazy, rejoice with them :) If you don't rejoice with them, you open the door to resentment, frustration, a victim mentality and a whole host of other junk. Rejoice with what others are blessed with and never stop being thankful for everything you've been blessed with :) You have a lot to be thankful for and rejoice about. Don't allow jealousy and envy to ruin the season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Can't Stand Being Sick :(

I'm now on to day 2 now of being sick and can't stand it. It's seldom that I ever get sick and so when I do, I really do. There's nothing worse than lying in a bed, feeling gross and not being able to do anything. When you go from being very productive to doing nothing, it's like someone pulled the park brake on while cruising down the freeway at 65mph. Actually today, my fever seems to have resided, but I do feel like I just competed in the Iron Man triathlon. Soreness, stiffness and lots of aches and pains are my lot today. I did have a good time reading my Bible this morning and spending some time with the Lord, which is a good thing. However, I will miss the HITC Christmas party today as it's the student's last day of school before two weeks off :( Continue praying for me, for a quick recovery and that I can get everything done that needs to be done. The verses I'm clinging to today are from Psalm 103:1-5, "Let all that I am praise the Lordwith my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lordmay I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and  heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Should We Ban Motor Vehicles Because They Kill People?

According to the US Census http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1103.pdf, automobile accidents caused over 35900 fatalities in 2009. That is a huge amount of people killed by motor vehicles. This includes the thousands killed by drunk drivers, excessive speed, dangerous driving, driving too fast for conditions, those driving under the influence of drugs, and so on. When innocent people and families are killed by drunk drivers on a daily basis, shouldn't we do something about outlawing motor vehicles? I mean vehicles are dangerous because people die everyday because of them. Do you really think that vehicles are to blame for people dying? I think you're foolish if you do. People cause accidents and deaths. People choose to drink alcohol and then get behind a wheel. People choose to drive at excessive speeds. People choose to drive recklessly. The problem is with people and not objects. You could make the same argument for anything else that people use to kill others. People choose to use an objects to hurt others. Objects such as cars and guns don't have the ability to hurt and kill others on their own. People using them are the problem. I think it's easy to attack something as being horribly wrong and wanting to bring sweeping measures to try and curb deaths by its' use. But when it all comes down to it it's the human heart that needs changed and the only way this can happen is through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why?

As I got up this morning I was still in disbelief and shock at what took place yesterday in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The tragedy which occurred at a place so many of us believe to be a sanctuary of innocence, a grade school. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around why such a horrific event took place and why it involved the most innocent of the innocents, grade school aged children. As a father I can't even imagine what families and loved ones of those who lost their lives yesterday are going through today. The only thing I can think of to do is be comforted in the loving arms of my comforter, Jesus Christ. No amount of anger, tears or pain is going to change things. All I can think of to do is to run to Him. Jesus Himself promises us in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." In these simple words we see His promise to us. I hope that everyone affected by this act will turn to the Lord and receive the comfort He offers in times like this. My prayers and thoughts definitely go out to the families of Sandy Hook. I pray that the Lord's comfort finds each one of you and that you allow Him to wrap His loving arms around you...Also please take a moment to watch these amazing words shared by Mike Huckabee.. http://video.foxnews.com/v/2038135300001/huckabee-where-was-god/

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's Your Personal Growth Plan?

I constantly hear people talking about how they want to become a leader or perhaps grow as a leader. But when it comes down to it, there must be more than just talk or a desire. Those who become good leaders do so because they have a plan and a strategy. Our HITC students just got done watching a powerful DVD by John Maxwell on developing leaders. I've read and watched lots of Maxwell, but this is one of his best. One of the things he stressed was having a personal growth plan. This plan is one of the main things that separates those who want to be leaders and those actually become leaders. Do you have a personal growth plan? Something that sets the course for you to develop and grow as a leader? If you do, great! If not, it's never too late to get one :) If someone believes that they've arrived as a leader, they're really only kidding themselves. A leader can always find areas to grow in and improve. Personal growth plans can be simple or a little more detailed, but the important thing is having something that works for you and succeeds in its goal. A couple of things in my plan to help me grow as a leader include: reading a book a month, listening to or watching a CD or DVD every other week, meeting with someone I look up or that I would consider successful monthly, and writing frequently to help my writing skills. As I've been faithful to do these things I've seen continued growth in my own personal life. If you don't have a personal growth plan, now is the perfect time to get one and begin to see the fruit of your labors :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Starbucks is a Luxury...

Before you read the rest of this post, you must know that I only chose Starbucks because it was a place that I used to visit frequently. However, it could easily refer to any coffee shop for that matter. In the past year my Starbucks visits have declined significantly. I do love the atmosphere and environment, but unfortunately when your personal financial belt is a little tighter, things like Starbucks become the first to go. I've seen recent statistics on Starbucks drinkers showing things such as how much people spend and how often they go in a week. It's as if their coffee shop visit is what they're supposed to do. For the last year now I've probably only visited Starbucks once every few weeks. And even then it's for my favorite grande Earl Grey tea with cream and raw sugar, which dings me $2.28. But the thing I have learned over this past year when it comes to Starbucks has been such a valuable lesson for me. In years past I may have visited Starbucks up to three times a week. It was what I did. Instead of being something special, it became the norm. It's funny how your perspective can change over time. Now when I go to Starbucks I view it as being a luxury. Have fun when you visit your local coffee shop today :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pranks Are Fun Till...

Pranking is everywhere and everyone loves a good laugh from them. But when can a prank go too far? When can a prank be too much? When people play a prank on someone, the purpose is fun. However, more and more I'm seeing pranks go wrong. In other words, the negative side of pranking. I remember a story about a person who had some friends play a prank on them as they entered their own home. Not realizing it was a prank, the person drew a gun they were carrying and shot dead one of their friends. Or recently, the two Australian DJ's who played a prank by calling the hospital where Princess Kate Middleton was staying due to her severe morning sickness. Sadly, the nurse who took the call and fell for the prank, Jacintha Saldanha, committed suicide the next day. Nobody ever expects something like this to happen when they plan it, but pranks do go bad, and probably more often than we realize. Feelings can be easily hurt,  not to mention personal property, and occasionally injury and even death. In Proverbs 26:19 the Message is very clear, "People who shrug off deliberate deceptions, saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,” Are worse than careless campers who walk away from smoldering campfires." We can definitely learn from these words of wisdom. Am I against having fun? Absolutely not! Those of you who know me know I love having fun and joking around. But with pranks there's a fine line we must all be aware of. Please take a moment to think before doing something you'll regret at the expense of another. Something that may cause something you never expected.

Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Treat Others

How others treat you is how you should treat them, right? If someone is mean to you, then you can be mean to them. If someone hurts you, then you can hurt them. If someone steals from you, then you can steal from them. Unfortunately, this is how too many people think. They believe that whatever someone does to them, that they now also have the right to do back to them. But is this really how we should live? Is that the heart and attitude that will make a real difference in our culture? I don't think so! When it comes to treating others there's no better verse than Luke 6:31, "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!" (Message). For some people this may be a complete change in thinking as it really does contradict what our culture says. It certainly did when Jesus said it. If you want others to treat you a certain way, then start treating them the way you would like them to treat you. If you want people to be kind to you, then you start by being kind to them. Don't wait for them to be kind, but you start and take the initiative. Too often we won't do nice things to others till they first do it for us, but how about you be the one to start? Today why don't you put the Golden Rule into practice and treat those around you how you yourself want them to treat you :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Downside to Social Media?

Jovan Belcher was an NFL football player with the Kansas City Chiefs. This past weekend he ended his girlfriend's life and then drove to his team's facilities and took his own life. Their deaths left a 3 month old girl to grow up with no parents. People have asked how a tragedy like this could have happened or even been avoided. Belcher was surrounded by teammates and others daily, yet why was no-one aware of the inner struggles he was experiencing. As you're fully aware, we are now living in an electronic and social networking culture. Texts, Facebook, Twitter, emails, etc, serve their purpose, but they don't allow you to look into the heart and soul of a person. It produces mainly surface communication that prevents anyone from knowing the struggles and battles that may actually be going on in a person's life. Social media has its purpose, but never allow it to replace personal verbal communication. There's lots of things I'd like to add to this post, however, one of Belcher's teammates, Brady Quinn, hits the nail on the head. I encourage you to listen to this man's heart as he shares something that seems to be so easily forgotten and overlooked in our culture. Please take a moment to watch this 60 second clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e938bu3wEr8.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yet Another Bizarre Twist to Kindness and Generosity

I appreciate all the views and comments about my blog post yesterday. Yes, I thought it was a sad ending to a wonderful act of kindness and generosity. But now this story has taken yet another bizarre twist. The homeless man, identified as Jeffrey Hillman, seems to have added to his story a little. Yes, he still feels he should have a piece of the pie of his story with it being flashed about just about every media outlet around the nation. But he has now explained why he isn't wearing the boots he was given by that NYPD officer's kindness and generosity. And in my view, his reasoning again points to the sad place our nation is becoming at times. Essentially it's two-fold. Firstly, he isn't wearing them because he's hid them. As a homeless man wearing new boots he was afraid for his life, saying someone might kill him for them. Secondly, he said he's stated he's already sold them or thinking of selling them. It's a sad place when someone feels threatened by the gift of another. Perhaps it shows how primal things can be when Biblical values are ignored. And also, it can also cause those who desire to do something special and purposeful, like the NYPD officer, to choose not to do it, out of concern for someone's safety or motives (selling the gift).

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Sad Follow Up to Kindness & Generosity

Well today I'm shocked! I have to write a sad follow up to my last blog post about the generosity of a NYPD officer buying a pair of boots for a barefooted homeless man last week. You can take a look at it here http://hitcpastor.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-power-and-impact-of-kindness.html. To me it was an incredible act of kindness and generosity. However, today I read that the homeless man is no longer wearing the $100 boots for one simple reason. He wants a piece of the pie when it comes to all the media and attention he's been getting. The photo and story created a media frenzy and the homeless man at the center of the story feels like he should be gaining something from all of it. If I wrote my last blog on kindness, how could I not talk about greed and discontentment in this one. It's hard for me to even fathom. Instead of appreciating the $100 boots and socks, someone who had nothing now wants even more than he started with. Is this what America is really coming to? Many of us have done random acts of kindness or have been recipients of it, yet there's never a cry to want more or even credit for what's been done. Has our nation become one where all we can focus on is wanting more? Where has contentment gone? Contentment is a place very few people now find themselves. Will you choose to be content with all you've been blessed with today? Or will greed try to work its way into your life? Tonight a man's feet will be freezing in New York because of his greed (and stupidity).

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Power and Impact of Kindness

One of the biggest news stories right now involves a random act of kindness shown by a NYPD officer a few weeks ago. I recommend you check out the link to the story at the end of today's post. What I've been thinking about lately is the power of kindness. Here's someone meeting an evident need and it becomes world wide news. What does that tell me? Simply, that the world loves stories of kindness, especially when shown towards complete strangers. In this case, a homeless man on the streets of New York. When talking about kindness, I can't help but think of the Lord. Look at what Ephesians 2:4-7 tells us, "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!). For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus." God's kindness towards us is indescribable and undeserving, yet He willingly shows it to us daily. Today, you will have many opportunities to show kindness to others. And it will probably be to some who aren't deserving or could ever pay you back. But that's not the point. Show it to them anyway, because of the kindness that's been shown to you by the Lord :) Here's the link and I recommend you watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JorEw_75Yg0. Have fun being kind today :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making Your Christmas Merry

It all started on Thanksgiving with the playing of Christmas music. Stores, radio stations, TV ads all seemed to playing them. On the early morning hours of Black Friday people people had already been camped out for hours to get steals and deals. Malls and stores were packed. $52 billion was spent on Black Friday and number of credit cards being swiped was staggering. Before you know it there'll be Christmas party after Christmas party. Frustrations are around the corner with trying to find the right gifts, packed malls and a shortage of parking spots. By the time Christmas morning rolls around you're exhausted. In fact there's little recognition of the holiday because of everything leading up to it. But let's not forget the reason for this season, Jesus Christ. The Savior of the world and Son of God who came to redeem fallen man. This Christmas will you let the season overwhelm you? Or will you add a little simplicity to your Christmas. Don't let the busyness of the season steal from the reason for the season. Isn't there more to it? Keep things simple and enjoy your Christmas season :) Will you let your Christmas be a merry one? Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Are A Hero

All of us have people in our lives that we love and appreciate. But every now and then someone comes along that inspires us and challenges us to live above the norm. One such person in my life, who I consider a hero is my grandfather who we called "Pop." He was an ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life. I'm thinking about him now because the 28th November would have been his birthday. Although he passed away several years ago, the impact he made on people's lives continues even today. He was unselfish, kind, strong and committed to all he did. He was a war hero who won many medals, yet never wanted any recognition for them. He was a servant to all around him, and loved his family beyond measure. Sometimes culture gives us the impression that all heroes wear capes, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. When you think about it, we all have opportunities to be heroes to those around us. Not that it's something we strive for, but if we'd just be who God's called us to be, others will be inspired by our lives. Today, will you be a hero to someone? Maybe it's your spouse, your children, your co-workers, or even someone you bump into. All you have to do is be the person God's made you :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Was I Thinking?

This time every year a group of us men from church play in our annual Turkey Bowl football game. Yesterday we had 3 games going with about 50 people involved. It was amazing! Hard core flag football (tackle or get the person down and then pull their flag). As we were playing yesterday I ran hard on both offense and defense. I caught a touchdown, grabbed an interception and even threw a few touchdowns. My adrenaline was pumping and age meant nothing. Well that was yesterday. This morning I got up and realized my body was screaming at every movement I made. While I felt nothing yesterday, I'm making up for it today. Every year I forget that I'm not the young athlete I once was and always pay for it the next day. So why would I play every year? There's something about being around other men who are playing football together. I just can't stay at home and not be part of the camaraderie, fun, laughter and highlight plays. Thanks to all the guys who let this veteran play yesterday :) I had a blast!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No Gratitude Means No Thankfulness

I've been thinking a lot lately about people who are thankful and those who aren't, especially with it being Thanksgiving tomorrow. I love what EM Bounds says, "Gratitude is an inward emotion of the soul, involuntarily arising therein, while thanksgiving is the voluntary expression of gratitude. Thanksgiving is oral, positive, active. It is the giving out of something to God. Thanksgiving comes out into the open. Gratitude is secret, silent, passive, not showing its being until expressed in praise and thanksgiving. Gratitude is felt in the heart. Thanksgiving is the expression of that inward feeling.” A person who has no real gratitude on the inside will have no evidence of thanksgiving on the outside. They can try to fake it, but as we all know, it's pretty easy to spot a faker. For someone to have no gratitude they're obviously overlooking much and take a lot for granted. If we sat down and really thought about it, we would have pages and pages of things we're thankful for. We've all seen the commercial asking "what's in your wallet?" But the question we must really ask today is "what's in your heart?" Matthew 12:34 tells us, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." If there's gratitude in your heart, it will be obvious in the words that come from your mouth. Today, reflect on all the Lord's done for you, blessed you with, and has planned for you :) Have an attitude of gratitude.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Doing It For Her

One of the key ingredients for a a successful marriage is preferring the your spouse. Especially as a husband, I listen very carefully to those things my wife tells me she likes, and those things she doesn't. Over the last 6 weeks I've grown my facial hair out because I think it look stylish. I've also gotten a lot of compliments about how it looks. However, when it comes to what my wife thinks, she's first and foremost (obviously she's second to Jesus). I know my prickly stubbles were rough on her delicate cheeks and tender lips, so it was time for the facial hair to go. If my wife tells me it's time for my facial hair to go, it's time for it to go. Why would I do this? Why wouldn't I put up a fight. Don't forget I've gotten many positive comments about it. The answer is simple, I prefer her. As a husband, her desires and needs come before mine. Plus, I know I'll get a lot more kisses when my face is soft and clean shaven :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bad Attitudes Aren't Worth It

I had a great discussion with the HITC students this morning on attitudes. We talked about both good attitudes as well as bad ones. It's interesting that when someone has a bad attitude, there's absolutely nothing good that comes from it, other than God's forgiveness when you get things right with Him. When you think about it, there's no reason bad attitudes should have any place in our life. Not only is their fruit bad, but it causes you to ignore or forget all the Lord's done for you. Another amazing thing about attitudes is that we have the power to choose what kind of attitude we'll have. Usually bad attitudes are caused by our circumstances and what's going on around us. But we have the powerful choice of choosing to have a good attitude regardless of what's happening. Nobody enjoys being around someone who has a bad attitude. Can you imagine what's being communicated to others by a Christian who has a bad attitude? Culture says it's OK to have a bad attitude if you want, as if it's your right. Unfortunately this couldn't be farther from the truth. Will you choose to have a good attitude today? If you're attitude isn't right, will you make things right with the Lord and others? Having a bad attitude knowing everything the Lord has done for you is plain wrong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Reputation and Integrity Are Compromised


There's so much buzz going on right now about the scandal involving former CIA director General Petraeus, Paula Broadwell and even Marine General John Allen. It serves as a reminder to all who have been placed in positions of authority, whose reputation and integrity are of the utmost importance. Petraeus' reputation has been impeccable and his integrity unquestioned. When the story broke most people couldn't believe what they were hearing. There are several things anyone can learn from this very sad situation. If integrity is something that's important to you, you can never afford to be casual about anything. Obviously Petraeus allowed small compromises in his life to mount, eventually resulting in his fall. I'm sure these didn't seem too big at the time. Petraeus was a man who was under much stress and pressure, for months on end not really having anyone to open up with, and being thousands of miles from his wife and family (he was overseas when this all went down). Along comes a very friendly, attractive and comforting friend, Paula Broadwell. I think it's so important for people to see the warning signs from the onset. He knew he was lonely and needed a confidant and this lady filled his void. When you're going through a difficult time, continually keep going to the Lord and allow him to fill your void. Set things in place that won't allow you to become snared by the enemy. I know some people will thing this is going overboard, however, the result is always the same, regret and pain. What are some things you have in place not to allow your reputation and integrity to take a hit? I think you'll be glad to put some things in place.

Monday, November 12, 2012

One of My Best Prayer Times Ever

I'm very thankful the Lord doesn't take breaks. I'm thankful that the lines to heaven are always open. A couple of days ago I had one of the most intense prayer times I've ever had. My daughter Amber and I left Meridian (right after the Carrera wedding) to drive down to Las Vegas. We encountered heavy snow from Salt Lake City and from there it only got worse. A couple of more hours into it we encountered the worst driving conditions I've ever been in. On an 80mph freeway I had slowed to a crawl. 10mph became the norm and at one point I even had to stop because there was so much snow on the road that I couldn't even see where the freeway was. There were no other vehicles on the roads, other than those that had skidded off and it was a very dangerous situation. Amber and I prayed. I mean we prayed hard. It was a time where I sought the Lord like I'd never sought Him before. I knew He was with us and wasn't going to leave us and He was so faithful. We finally came to a mountain town called Fillmore. We pulled off and hung out in the Maverick, which was the only thing open at 5am. After a couple of hours it started to get light and we headed back out, after 10 inches of snow had fallen. The roads and conditions weren't much better, but at least it was light, which seemed to make all the difference. The Lord finally got us down to Vegas in one piece. I'm so thankful for His promise to us found in Psalm 32:7, "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Thank you Jesus for protecting us :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Do I Have To Go Through This?

This morning I spent an hour with our HITC students (http://www.coharvest.org/#/bible-college) in my office talking about leadership. Well actually, we talked about some of the tests and trials that leaders must face. Usually when it comes to tests and trials we tend to hide, run from them or simply ignore them. But think for a moment, what's the purpose of tests? Do you really think that they're crush you? I don't think so. The goal of tests is to help us grow, learn and to draw nearer to God. Look at what Romans 5:3-4 tells us, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." It's not a matter of if tests will come, but when. And as you encounter some kind of testing, trial or problem, how are you going to respond and grow? As I look back on some of the tests and trials I've personally faced, as I was going through them it was challenging. Yet when I came through on the other side, I can definitely say that I needed to go through that season. Today you might be going through some sort of test. Well don't despair, but rejoice, because there's a purpose for your testing. And that purpose is your growth and maturity :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is Your Life Like A Roller Coaster Ride?

Everyday things can go a way that you didn't expect and even surprise you. Sometimes things can happen that seem to take you in the complete opposite direction you want to be going. I continue to be amazed at the life of Joseph (thanks again to Bill Scheidler for his incredible course notes for Genesis). When you look at the life of Joseph, so many things went contrary to what he was expecting, and could easily describe it as a roller coaster ride. He encountered things that, depending upon his response, could very easily have disqualified him for what God had in store. We can learn so much from his circumstances and even more from his responses. He could have focussed on how unfair his life was. He could have focussed on how wrong and mean his brothers were. And he could have also focussed on the fact he was in a prison, a million miles from where he thought he should be. Bill Scheidler says about this, "Joseph may have been a slave in his circumstance, but he wasn't a slave in his spirit." This has to be the attitude and perspective we have. Things may look bleak and hopeless, but your attitude can make all the difference. I know you'll have opportunities today to respond to your circumstances. Will your choices look like those of Joseph or not?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Forgotten? Never Stop Being Faithful

Ever been in a season where you feel forgotten? At times even invisible to those around you? Others seem to be the ones getting all the recognition, the credit, the raise, the bonus, etc. I think everyone goes through those seasons every now and then. Usually in times like this a person will always have two options, bail or be faithful. I've seen many situations where people have bailed, and others where the person has been faithful. I think of David in the Bible. He served in obscurity while everyone around him seemed to be reaping rewards. He stayed faithful and God's plans came to pass. I also think of Joseph, who I've been studying lately (and greatly appreciate the notes from Bill Scheidler on Joseph from his Genesis class). Regardless of the ups and downs in Joseph's life, and believe me, they were major ups and downs, he remained faithful. What amazes me with Joseph is that he was framed and put in jail due to the lies of another. In jail he was literally forgotten by everyone, except God. He didn't live based on what he felt or what he saw, but he lived by principle and faith. Joseph continued to be faithful in the little things and because of this God blessed him. You may be in a season where you feel forgotten, but not by God. Continue being faithful in all you do, and just like Joseph, God will open doors for you :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Slave Without Having A Slave's Mentality

Usually in our culture a slave is someone who's viewed negatively. It's someone who has no rights of their own. It's easy to have the picture in your mind of someone who's extremely unhappy without having any hope for the future. One of my favorite people in the Bible is Joseph. Although he was a slave in every regard naturally, he certainly didn't act like one. His mentality was definitely not one of slavery. We see that as a slave he had both success and prosperity, even though he owned nothing. A quote from Bill Scheidler hits the nail on the head when he says, "A servant is someone who gets excited about  making someone else a success." Joseph could very easily have lived down and discouraged, yet he chose to be who God had called him to be, regardless of his position or situation. Today, will you choose to do what Joseph did? Will you choose to live how he lived? Don't let where you're at stop you from being who God's called you to be. If only we could have Joseph's attitude and forget worrying about our success and making those around us successful. This principle goes against what culture says and would be considered radical by many. But it's how we should live :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You Don't Need to be Perfect For God to Use You

I'm so thankful that when it comes to people doing God's will, He isn't looking for perfect people. In fact you may have heart the quote, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." This quote is very true. In our HITC Genesis class we've been studying Abraham, who's known as the father of faith. As you look and study Abraham's life, you see situations where Abraham, by his actions, was definitely not the father of faith. Yet God continued to form and mold Abraham into a man who would be full of faith. Looking at one of the greatest tests of Abraham's faith, the sacrificing of his son Isaac, Abraham's faith was unwavering. How did his faith become rock solid? By seeing God's faithfulness throughout his life and learning from his mistakes. Abraham was not perfect. In fact he wasn't even close. He definitely didn't start off as the father of faith, but became the father of faith. It's the same way with us. Too often we wonder how God could ever use us as we are. But just like Abraham we must learn and grow. Because God sees the beginning and the end, He saw Abraham as the father of faith, even when his actions didn't line up with the title. When God sees you, He sees the man or woman He's called you to be. Our only responsibility is to trust Him. Our faith must be in Him and not in ourselves. Will you have faith today in the fact that God has a plan for you, in the place you're at, that's amazing?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and God

It's been very interesting watching the massive and oncoming storm, Sandy. It's a huge and dangerous storm that's being called a perfect storm. The storm of the century due to several massive opposing weather fronts colliding together. It's amazing as I watch the news images and footage of this storm. Powerful winds, huge seas, inches of rain and snow, as well as much more fury along the East coast. My heart goes out to all of those whose lives are in harms way and pray that everyone is kept safe. But what storms like this make me think about is how powerful God is. Yes, storms like this are mighty and incredible, yet don't even come close to the power of God. You may be facing struggles, impossibilities or difficult situations, but don't lose hope. We serve a God who is able to do the impossible, just as Matthew 19:26 tells us, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Sandy is a massive storm, but pales in comparison to our God.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Way to Go HITC!

Every now and then you've got to let others know what's going on and that's what I'm going to do today. This year I have the privilege of being around 11 incredible, amazing and astonishing people on a daily basis. Our HITC students continue to grow in leaps and bounds, accomplishing things they never thought they could. Last year our goal was to help them see they could do so much more than they could ever imagine, and this year we're seeing the fruit of it. They are the bomb! I'm so proud of this year's students. Whether things are going smoothly or not, they seem to rise to the occasion. We're coming to the end of our first trimester here at HITC with only two more remaining. I wait in eager anticipation about what God is going to do in each of these 11 students. All I know is that it's going to be great! Way to go HITC students, continue to be all God's called you to be :) I'll end with a great quote from Zig Ziglar for you, "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to be successful."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Growth!

Recently someone asked me what were some of the things I thought were important to growing and maturing as a Christian. Obviously there are many important things that will help someone grow and mature in Christ. Some of these things may be obvious, some are simple, some are easy and some will rock your world. Yes, I have been saved by God's grace, through my faith in Him, not by anything I've done, but it's His gift to me (Ephesians 2:8). However, I must still walk out my faith, fulfilling the call to be salt and light in a dying world. My response to the question I was asked was simply be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. It's taken from Ephesians 4:32 which tells us to "be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Being kind, tenderhearted and forgiving are three things which can go against the grain of our culture. In no way am I saying there's nothing else that should be done to grow, but for me each of these are home runs. If growth and maturity as a believer is your goal, what are you doing to grow? These are things that I can apply daily in my life. For growth to occur they must be applied consistently, regardless of how easy or difficult it may be. I've chosen to grow, have you?