Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Most People Have No Clue...

The Summer Olympic games, as always, is amazing! Am I really enjoying watching water polo, synchronized diving, kayaking and archery? Things I'd never normally watch. But to every moment of success and victory, there's many more who experience failure and disappointment. As an athlete, I know that when a person doesn't perform to their expectation (or their nations), it's crushing. They may say they're happy to be at the Olympics, but it's a front. Yes they are happy for their team mate who did win and wish everyone well, but behind the eyes the tears are wanting to burst forth. What most people rarely understand is the tremendous sacrifice athletes make to compete in the Olympics. Every aspect of their life revolves around one or two races or competitions. There are no second chances, no reruns or make ups. For instance Jordyn Weiber, the defending world champion gymnast. She has a 4 solid performances in the all-round competition, but not quite up to her normal scores, and so she misses out on the finals (because of a dumb rule). Her one shot at the Olympics and it's over, well at least in the individual all-round competition. She wore her tears and heartbreak on her sleeve before a TV audience of almost a billion around the world. I'm so thankful that Christianity isn't like that. One bad day and you're out. You're done. But Proverbs 24:16 encourages us by saying, "The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again." Thank you Jesus for helping me up when I stumble, and helping me get back on my journey :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Soldiers and Christians

Have you ever noticed how many similarities there are between soldiers and Christians? There are even verses in the Bible which refer to Christians as "fellow soldiers." We are definitely in a war and usually face battles daily. We also have weapons listed in Ephesians 6 that are vital to our warfare. We are part of a great army with Jesus as our commander. The similarities are numerous. I love looking for good books at thrift stores and this week came across the "US Army Survival Manual." It looked pretty interesting and it explains what to do in a host of difficult circumstances. But what caught my eye was something towards the beginning. The first chapter talks about personal qualities needed in a survival situation. Immediately I noticed how important most of these qualities were to not only someone in the Army, but to a Christian also. Here are several of them:
1. Being able to make up your mind.
2. Being able to improvise.
3. Being able to live with yourself.
4. Being able to adapt t the situation, making a good thing out of a bad thing.
5. Remaining cool, calm and collected.
6. Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
7. Having patience.
Several more were listed but you get my drift. These qualities are so important for us as soldiers of Jesus Christ. Today, you may experience warfare in the spiritual realm but don't be surprised by it. You are in a war, in an army, and must be willing to fight.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

God Is Bigger Than Anything You Face

I think one of my favorite passages of Scripture is becoming Psalm 147. Why you may ask? Because it's about God and uses some great words to describe Him and tell us about Him. Not only that, but they can bring such comfort when needed. Verses 3-6 say...
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground."

One of the most encouraging things being a Christian is that regardless of the size of any problem we face, our God is bigger. He's bigger, stronger, wiser and my defender. Sometimes we can allow the problems we face to overwhelm us, but it's in those time we must keep our focus on our God. Don't forget that you plus God is always a majority! Battles, struggles, problems and trials may try to push their way into your day today, but our God is bigger and stronger :)


Friday, July 27, 2012

It's the Simple Things...

Have you ever noticed how it's usually the simplest of things that are bring satisfaction, contentment and joy? I know that some people feel the need to go out and buy things, do things or have things, thinking that these will satisfy. But in reality they never do. I know the Lord alone is the one who fills me, but He often uses others to help. One of the things that  brings me satisfaction, contentment and joy are my kids. All three of them are incredible and I'm so thankful for them. But today I want to tell you a little about my youngest daughter, Hannah, who yesterday turned 13. She's constantly making me laugh and smile. She has such joy that overflows into those around her. She can also make you laugh (even when you may not feel like it) :) So what is it about Hannah that's different? Nothing really, other than she loves to let Jesus shine through her. She's very sensitive to the needs around her and is always trying to help others. What amazing is that this should describe every Christian. We should all allow Jesus to shine through us and be sensitive to the needs of those around us. Isn't that the very example that Jesus Himself showed us? He was often "moved with compassion" as He saw the many needs around Him. Let the light of Jesus shine through you today and let your joy be contagious. Let others around you experience your love, care and concern. And thank you Hannah for being such a special daughter :) You're so kind, funny, thoughtful and loving. Dad loves you so much :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Glad I'm On Her Team

We all know people whose team we'd love to be on. They encourage, serve, build up and strengthen those around them, often in ways they're completely unaware of. Today I'm introducing you to a young leader God has done so much in and through. Her name is Stephanie LaFramboise, and yes, one day she will be known by name around the world (as was once prophesied over her). She's one of those people whose team you always want to be a part of. Stephanie was part of Harvest Church's original youth group and has only moved upwards from those days. What are some of the things I see in Stephanie that are essential in any young leader? Well she has wonderful pastoral skills and definitely loves people. She's always encouraging others and has a huge desire to see them grow in their walk with the Lord. But there are several other things that are often overlooked by young leaders, which Stephanie thrives with. These include being a multi-tasker, focusing on multiple things at once. She also helps teams become amazing. Whether in dance, small group or any other team, she brings so much to the table and empowers others around her. Lastly, she's flexible. She's learned that things won't always go the way you planned, and you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. In fact, she often turns difficult situations into fun situations. But what's the one thing that stands out about Stephanie? To me it's her surrender to the Lord and to completely follow His leading. So many young people want to do what they want, but Stephanie chose to lay down her desires and embrace the Lords. This is a lesson all Christians could learn from. I'm so thankful for Stephanie's friendship and am so glad I'm on her team :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Do You Respond to Change?

For some people change is a way of life, while for others it can be very difficult. For me personally, I enjoy routine and consistency, but must be ready for changes as it comes. How do you do when it comes to change? I'm encouraged by the example of many people in the Bible who responded to change when it took place. For instance, how the Israelites needed to move when the cloud moved. Or the disciples when they were doing something and then Jesus would have them move onto the next thing. Change is something that's guaranteed to happen in our lives. The question is how will you handle it? How will your response be? Now I do realize that change is sometimes good, but other times it's not so good. For example, how the Israelites always sought the Lord before going into battle. Yet they didn't prior to attacking Ai, and we all know the consequences. Whether change brings good or bad with it, it's certain to come. One of the most important things I see when it comes to change is through my growth as a Christian. I have definitely changed so much and continue changing each day I serve the Lord. In this instance change is awesome! Are you ready for change today? Don't let it catch you off guard :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

For Any Team to Succeed...

With the summer Olympics right around the corner one of the things I'm personally looking forward to seeing is who will win the gold medal in men's basketball. When you look at the players on the US team, they are all NBA superstars. They each make millions of dollars each year and are usually the ones who take the winning shots for their respective NBA teams. But does this guarantee wins? On paper they should win the gold medal with ease, but if playing on a team was only that easy. There are some dangers that lurk not only on this team, but really on any team. And if a team isn't careful, any one of these dangers could take them down. Will they compete as a team and not simply a group of individuals with different motives and goals? Will they be willing to trust others on the team to make the big shot? Will they be critical of other team members when they make a mistake or be supportive? Will they be willing to step out of the spotlight for the good of the team? Each of these are great questions that will be answered in London. But as I've said, these problems can show their ugly head on any team. One of the keys to the success of any team is found in Ephesians 4:2-3 which encourages us to, "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace." What encouragement and challenge at the same time. Can you imagine what it would be like if every team member on every team lived out these timeless principles found in Ephesians 4:2-3? I think teams around the world would look very different :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

You Can Make A Difference

Just about everyone has thought from time to time, "I could never make a difference." Maybe you've heard it in the context of elections and voting, or perhaps in bringing about some sort of change in an area. Many people fall into this pattern of wrong thinking. The reason I say it's wrong thinking is because time and time again it's proven to be wrong. There are countless examples of a person who's made a difference. You may wonder how you could change the climate of your workplace, your home, your school or anywhere else, but it is possible. There are many amazing examples in the Bible of people just like this. Age, gender, upbringing and education often have nothing to do with it when it comes to being an agent of change in culture. Esther, Joseph, Isaac, Mary, Paul and so on, all made a huge difference. Often God uses the most unlikely people to do the most extraordinary of things. All God is looking for are those who will respond to His call. In a culture that's quick to write somebody off, God is always looking for those He can use, whether or not they'd make culture's first team. Today you can make a difference! The atmosphere of your home, workplace and school can become different because of you. Will you dare to be one of those who will take the challenge and make difference?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Don't Blame A Gun For A Person's Choice

You're probably well aware of the great tragedy that unfolded in Colorado yesterday. There's no other words to describe the events that unfolded in that movie theatre. My thoughts and prayers go out to those injured in this senseless act, and to the families of those who lost a loved one. One of the things I continue to hear following this incident is the blame placed on guns. If guns should be responsible for killing people, shouldn't cars be responsible when a drunk driver kills someone? Sadly guns are being blamed when the responsibility should be place on people's actions. In our culture, sadly taking responsibility is the last thing someone wants to do. I appreciate the millions and millions of gun owners in America who acted responsibly yesterday. Just as with most things in life, a person makes a choice to do something. Whether it's taking a gun and committing a crime, getting behind a steering wheel drunk, or anything else, it's the person who's responsible, not the gun or the car. My heart goes out to all to everyone affected by Colorado's shooting, as well as everyone who's ever been affected by the actions and choices of a drunk driver. Don't blame guns or vehicles for people's actions...

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's As Simple As Believing

When it comes to faith and believing, even a child can do it. Everything about our Christian walk is based upon faith and believing. I'm presently reading the Book of John and it's amazing at how many people simply believed what Jesus said to them. And if they believed the things that Jesus said to them, why at times is it so hard for us to? Take for instance in John 4 where the nobleman tells Jesus his son is dying and wants Him to come to see his son. In John 4:50 Jesus' response is simply, "Go back home. Your son will live!" And upon hearing these few words it continues with, "And the man believed what Jesus said and started home." After hearing a few simple words from Jesus the father believed what Jesus said and headed back home. There was no arguing, fighting, unbelief, or anything else. It was simple faith and believing what had been said. I think all of us at times battle with faith and believing. At times we make things or situations much bigger deals than they really are. This man's son was about to die and he believed. We need this kind of faith in our lives. We need to trust Jesus fully and then leave it at that. No worrying or anxiety, but only faith. Will you believe Jesus today? I'm going to :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's Not Gonna Last!

Things will pass away. Things will be forgotten. Things definitely don't last. Yesterday I went by the place where  I taught tennis lessons for several summers and was the sight of many big tournament wins for me, the Warm Springs Tennis Club in Ketchum. These courts were once some of the most amazing around. The scenery surrounding them was breathtaking. But years ago they were sold for development, which obviously never took place. Now these courts are a far cry from the glory they once held. If these courts could speak. Some of the biggest names in tennis have hit here. Many great matches and finals were played here. I even remember beating a young Steve Appleton on this very court 20 years ago. But how easy it is for us to forget that most things won't last. Whether a car, a home, a phone, a tennis club, or a person, they will one day pass away. Life is fragile and often too short. Things are going to come to an end but legacies won't end when a person does. What's the legacy you're leaving? How are people going to remember you in the days ahead? The legacy you're leaving is being built right now! Some of the things I want to be remembered for are my love for the Lord and for others, and the fruit of the Spirit operating in my life (I have many others but you get the idea). If I want people to remember these, then they need to be operating in my life today. It's not too late to start working on the legacy you'd like to leave. Start today...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yesterday's Brutal Battle For My Peace and Joy

So yesterday was quite the day. I'd describe it as the battle for my peace and joy. We were about a mile from the Mountain Home exit when something quickly destroyed the driver's side rear tire. It looked like a bullet had gone through our tire. No problem, time to put the spare on on the narrow shoulder of the freeway as vehicles whiz by at 75mph. We call Les Schwab but they're not in a place to send a truck so I try a can of Fix-A-Flat I have, but it doesn't work. I unload Katherine, David, Hannah and my Mom and empty everything from the full trunk to get the spare. I'm sure it looked like a yard sale on the side of the freeway. With the spare out I then got the jack. But now I can't find the lug nut wrench. Noooo! I don't have a lug nut wrench. But in my handy dandy emergency kit I grab my 4inch wrench with a socket that fits my lugs. I begin the process of crushing my fingers as I work the first four lug nuts off which are on tight. My fingers are toast and I can't get the last one off. After about 30 minutes a road construction vehicle finally stops to help us. They don't have what I need but they do have a big guy in the truck. Unfortunately he can't get it off either :(  So they tell us they will go get us a wrench and did return about 30 more minutes later. In that whole hour they were the only vehicle that stopped to help us in the heat on the side of the freeway. We were passed by hundreds of vehicles, an ITD truck as well as a State Trooper. Enough said. Finally the construction guys return and getting the last lug off was a breeze with the right tool :) So I put the spare on, we reload the trunk and we head into Les Schwab in Mountain Home. After an evaluation the consensus it that the tires are very worn and new ones are needed. We get a good deal and for $500 we have four new tires. While they put them on we enjoy a wonderful picnic lunch inside of Les Schwab with several of their other customers. They finish, we jump back into the car and I make one more stop at Walmart. There I purchase a lug nut wrench so I won't ever get caught again. Yes, today my fingers still hurt, I have a nice new set of tires, as well as a lug nut wrench. But what's important is that I won the battle for my peace and joy yesterday. Yes it went back and forth, but I won because I didn't allow my circumstances to rip them from me :) My peace and joy are too precious to surrender for anything!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Connected to the Real Power

I love my Macbook Pro. I love what it does and how it does it. I was a PC user for about 9 years and was then converted to Mac about a year ago. However, whether it's a Mac or a PC, unless you have a power supply it's not going to do you much good, once your battery is dead. I love my Mac power charger :) It allows my Mac to keep running smoothly and doing the things I need it to do. What would happen if your battery was critically low and you didn't have your power supply? You'd essentially be done and would have to close your computer :(  It's the same way when it comes to living as a Christian. There is no possible way for us to be a Christian without a power supply. That power supply is both vital and necessary to walking the walk. So what is our power supply as a Christian? 1 Corinthians 4:20 says, "For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power." Being a Christian isn't simply about talk, or trying to do things on your own strength. It's about allowing God's power to come and fill you, enable you and flow through you. Maybe today your power meter is a little low? Why not plug into the true source of all power, God :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Everyone Needs Encouragement and Everyone Can Be an Encourager

Encouragement is so necessary in people's lives. I'm not saying that someone should need encouragement all the time, but definitely from time to time. Encouragement is the "lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal." Christian writer William Ward once said, "Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you." Encouragement is so powerful and can change things around very quickly. If you seen anything about the Tour de France which is taking place right now, you'll notice the roads in cities and mountain ranges lined with crowds. What are they doing? They're cheering on and encouraging the competitors to keep going and finish the race. This infuses something in the competitors causing them to dig deep and press on. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." There's a huge cloud of witnesses in heaven cheering all of us on and encouraging us to press on and finish our races. One of the most impacting things I've ever seen on encouragement involves British sprinter Derek Redmond in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Check it out if you want to be encouraged :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFKpZnok10s 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being a Christian is Like Riding a Tandem

If you've ever ridden a tandem bike, you know that there are two seats. The person who sits on the front is the one who charts the path and steers the course of the bike. They get to see what's ahead and the best path to go. The person on the back also has a seat, however, they have no ability to steer the bike and chart the course. Their responsibility is to pedal. It's strange being on the rear seat of a tandem no having any ability to steer. What it causes you to do is trust the person who's steering that they'll chart the right course and turn when necessary. This always makes me think of my Christian walk. I have asked Jesus to ride up front on the tandem of my life. I've chosen to go where He desires, where He thinks is best, and not where I want to go. I have chosen to follow Him completely. I can't help but think of Psalm 37:5-6 which says, "Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." If you've made the decision to serve Him, are you good with Him being up front? Do you trust Him to steer where needed? The person on the back of a tandem usually can't see clearly the path ahead, because of the front rider. But when that front rider is the Lord, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. And by the way, the person on the back must keep pedaling :) Enjoy your tandem ride today with the Lord.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Line in the Sand

Have you ever noticed what frequently happens when someone chooses to draw a line in the sand and takes a stand for righteousness? Often it comes in the form of attack, criticism, mockery or anything else that can be used to bash it. When Lolo Jones went public on being a virgin and why it was important to her, it became a feeding frenzy for the media. She was verbally attacked, made fun of and even mocked. When Tim Tebow prays or gives glory to God on the football field, frequently the backlash is staggering. But when you really think about it, this shouldn't surprise us. Even Jesus Himself was attacked for what He said and did, and He was the Son of God, Savior of the world. Romans 12:2 is a verse every Christian should take to heart and live out, saying "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." When you choose to live for Christ, the way you live will be different. It's not about fitting into culture as a Christian, but by your lifestyle with Jesus alive in you, others will be attracted to what you have and desire Him themselves. So if you're taking a stand for righteousness be encouraged. Persecution and attacks will probably come, but don't let them sway you or discourage you. If Jesus drew many lines in the sand, shouldn't we?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Even the Strong Need the His Strength

I was driving down the freeway recently and a semi truck passed me. What was different about this semi is that it wasn't hauling a trailer. In fact it was hauling three other semi trucks (and looked just like the picture I've used). It was pretty incredible to me seeing this powerful semi truck pulling three other, just as equally strong semi trucks down the freeway at 65mph. It made me think of us and Jesus. We can be people of physical and spiritual strength, and yet there is no way we can get around our dependence upon the Lord and His strength in our lives. In Psalm 28:7 we're encouraged by the writer's words, "The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving." The Lord is our strength and we can't live without it. I think about how many times I've been or felt weak, and in those times the Lord's strength has come through in such a big way. Today, you may be struggling, or perhaps you're doing well, but in either case you need the Lord's strength to make it through :) Lean on Him. Trust in Him. Receive His strength. It's just what you need and is available at just the right time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beauty Can Have Nothing To Do With Looks

I saw this picture this morning and couldn't help but think about marriage and getting older. The caption said they were 105 and 101 years old and that they'd been married for 86 years. A truly remarkable accomplishment for any couple! Have you ever thought about the stories and wisdom a couple like this may have? One of the things that jumped out at me was the love you could tell they share. I'm sure they've had their share of ups and downs, yet obviously their love overcame. It's sad to me when I hear of marriages breaking up, especially when it has to do with physical things such as looks. Perhaps she's not the beauty she once was or he's not the stud from previous years. But hold on for a moment. Is marriage and beauty all about looks? If it is, I think there are going to be some bumpy days ahead. One of the most fulfilling things about marriage has nothing to do with anything physical. It has to do with the growth of your relationship and seeing it blossom. I love seeing older couples holding hands as they're out on a walk. I love seeing an elderly husband treat his elderly wife like a queen. He's watching out for and helping her as if they're newlyweds. Having a wonderful spouse is a blessing from the Lord, but it may have absolutely nothing to do with their looks :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jesus' Communication Style

One of the things I love about the Bible is reading how Jesus treated others, especially His love for them and how He communicated with them. His choice of words and His tone. He gives us a great example to follow when it comes to treating others and communicating with them. More and more in our culture I see in pride and arrogance, with people speaking down to others in a condescending way. They often belittle them, mock them, and attack them, all too often with the goal of putting them in their place. Is this the kind of person, spouse or parent you want to be? I surely hope not. I think all of us prefer being around others who build us up and not tear us down. In Romans 12 the subtitle is "Behaving Like a Christian" and in verse 10 something jumps out at me. It says, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another..." Should giving preference involve only a few areas of our lives? I think it should involve every area of our lives, especially how we talk and communicate with others. If you want others around you to start changing in this area, don't forget that the change must first start with you. I'm so glad that Jesus doesn't speak down to us, so let's make sure that we don't do it to others :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Does Greatness Look Like?

Yesterday Roger Federer won his record setting 17th Grand Slam tournament by winning Wimbledon. He also equaled Pete Sampras' record of weeks at number one. He is probably the greatest player to ever play the game of tennis and is definitely one of my all time favorites. But what makes him great? Federer is so solid mentally, has strokes that are to be envied, and has a powerful will to win. Each of these working together produce history making results. Have you ever wondered what's considered great when it comes to the Kingdom of God? Is it results? Is it talents or abilities? Or is it something that everyone has deep within them? Matthew 18:4 tells us the answer by saying, "So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." Humility is greatness in the kingdom of God. It's not how gifted or talented you are. It has nothing to do with your personality or how well you speak. It has to do with being humble. And what is the continual opponent of humility? It's pride and arrogance. Pride always seems to be trying to worm its way into our lives and we must must guard against it passionately! There's been so many great things written about humility that I don't want to reinvent the wheel, however, I do encourage you to try living in humility. If God views humility as being greatness in the Kingdom, I think it's definitely something we should live out in our Christian lives :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lots On Your Mind? Try This...

Ever have those times where you have a lot on your mind? You have lots of decisions to make and need to make the right call with each one? After a little breakfast, time with the Lord and a few passages of the Word, it's off to the Boise Greenbelt I go. I pack up my cruiser bike in the back of my truck and off I go. The weather is gorgeous and the the Greenbelt is stunning. It's so peaceful and serene. It's there that I can talk with the Lord. It's as I peddle at a casual strolling pace that I can take time to rest in His peace. It's here that I can almost forget everything and get lost away in another place. I think we all need those places where we can go and get away from everything and spend time with the One who has every answer. And even if He doesn't give you specific answers to your questions, you at least know He's with you and isn't going anywhere. As I've just finished my several mile cruise along the Greenbelt, I'm enjoying a simple coffee as I blog. Life is truly beautiful and amazing especially having verses like Psalm 32:7-8 which says, "For You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." There's nowhere I'd rather be than in the middle of His will :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friends Are Friends Forever...

Yesterday we had the chance to spend a few hours with our best friends from college, Dave and Anne Tibbetts. Many of you may not know that Dave was instrumental in me getting saved. I transferred from the University of Oregon and Dave came from Tyler Junior College in Texas, and we moved into a room together at Chaffee Hall on the BSU campus. We were room-mates for three years, tennis doubles partners for two years and great friends for life. Dave was Christian who not only talked the walk, but walked it as well. His Christian life was contagious, not only winning others to Christ but also challenging them to live wholeheartedly for Him once they were saved. As a senior at BSU, in February of 1989, I became a Christian. God's cords of love won me over. It's amazing how God orchestrated bringing Dave and I together from different parts of the world, and seeing His plans for our lives unfold. As with any great friends, time and distance can't stop great friendships. I cherish our time together yesterday, with Anne and their kids. The Bible continually encourages us to be thankful. And for Dave and Anne I am truly thankful :) I can't help but think of Michael W. Smith's lyrics from one of his songs which says,
"And friends are friends forever 
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends."

Love you Dave and Anne :)
Also check out one of the best Christian songs of all time (the lyrics are awesome!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbPKaIozS-c

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 5th of July

Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July. People and families everywhere gathered to spend the day together by eating, playing and enjoying fireworks. Celebrating America's independence and freedom is truly something amazing! Now I realize that today, the 5th of July, that most people have to go back to work, won't be getting together for a barbecue, or setting off any fireworks. But today, will we forget everything we celebrated yesterday? Everyday we should be thankful for this great nation, how it was founded, and the freedoms we have. There may not be all the fireworks from yesterday, but don't put everything we have away until next year's 4th of July celebrations. This also makes me think of people who start a personal relationship with Jesus Christ becoming Christians. They shouldn't just get excited and celebrate their freedom one day a year. Think if we did what Psalm 9:1-2 tells us, but on a daily basis, "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;  I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High." Everyday we should be thankful for and live out the freedom we have as a nation as well as Christians. There may not be any fireworks today, but let your lives be filled with joy because of the freedoms we have :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eyes Only For Your Wife

We live in a culture where sexual promiscuity is everywhere and where sex before marriage is usually the norm and not the exception. I also know there are many men who have not done anything physical with a woman other than their wife. But does that mean everything is good? Not necessarily. One of the saddest things to me is watching the eyes of a married man checking out another women other than his wife. And I'm not talking about an accidental glance either. As his eyes wander, immediately his mind begins to be filled with lustful thoughts that he would want no-one else to know about. One of the most devastating things a married man can do is allow his eyes to look at other women, especially in front of his wife. He may think that she isn't aware of what he's doing, but often she does, and sooner or later will notice it. In Matthew 5:27-28 (The Message) Jesus tells us,"You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt." It's vital for married men to guard and protect what they allow their eyes to gaze upon. A simple lustful look can be the start of a very destructive and dangerous path. Don't be tempted and fall into one of Satan's most successful traps. Allow your eyes to feast upon your wife only. Let her know how much you love her. Train your eyes to focus on her and not other women, whether she's with you or not. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Attitudes, Attitudes, Attitudes...

Thanks to Brittney DeWitt for recently posting on Facebook, Chuck Swindoll's description of attitude. I remember preaching on this specific quote years ago at ROAR. There's not a lot that can be added to it. If we'd simply live out its wisdom. Swindoll said, “The longer I live, The More I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important then the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what others people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day of our lives regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inventible. The only thing we can do is plan on the one string we do have, and that is our attitude...I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...We are in charge of our attitudes.” Your attitudes will determine where you go and how high you go. And what's so amazing is that you are the only one who gets to make your attitude choices. What kind of attitudes will you have today? Ones that reflect Jesus Christ? Or those that reflect the world? Again, the choice is completely yours :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Marriage Ingredients

On Friday night I was privileged to attend the beautiful wedding of Carlye Marx and Travis Carleton. It was such a special night. As Carlye and Travis begin their new life together as husband and wife, they are going to experience two lives becoming one in everything. Carlye and Travis are such a great couple together. There are many things that are going to make their marriage, and for that fact any marriage, a strong one. I want to give three key ingredients, taken from a long list, that I think help make a strong and vibrant marriage. The first ingredient is that the Lord must be first and the foundation of a marriage. A marriage must be founded upon the Lord to overcome the many things that oppose its success and growth. The second ingredient is a love for each other. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives a pretty good description of what love looks like when it says, "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Loving your spouse like this is vital. The final ingredient is to put your spouse before yourself. Don't live for self and put your desires first. Instead, put them first before yourself. I'm so excited to see all the amazing things that God has in store for our newlywed couple :) Congratulations to the Carletons!