Friday, December 20, 2013

Relationship Not Religion

Something I find myself talking with people about on a regular basis is the difference between religion and Christianity. I find that many people don't realize that they are very different. When they find out I'm a pastor, they often begin seeing me as religious, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Carl Lentz, a pastor in New York City says it well when he says, "Religion is something you do because you have to. Relationship is something you choose to do because you want to." Christianity is about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I don't do it because I have to or am being forced to. I choose to have a relationship with Him because I desire to and choose to. Religion is often about lots of do and don'ts. Relationship is all about love. When I chose to serve Jesus in 1989, I didn't join a religion or become religious, I chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ and begin a personal relationship with Him. From that day I haven't looked back...Jesus is my best friend and wouldn't change it for the world.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"I'm Listening"...God

Ever get the feeling that no-one is listening? That nobody is hearing you? I think it can be a pretty common thing. If I ever think along these lines Psalm 34:6-7 always gives me hope by saying, "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them." I love it! I may be just one person on a planet of 6 billion or so, and yet when I cry out the Lord does hear me :) And not only does He hear me, but He delivers me out of the whatever I'm crying out to Him about. Now that doesn't mean all the hard things simply disappear when I cry out to Him, but at least He's with me as I go through them. You may have nobody to talk with or be open to, but trust me, there's no-one better than the Lord for doing this with :) Take a moment to spend some time with Him today. He's definitely willing if you are.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Diamonds in the Rough...

It's pretty easy spotting those who are talented, gifted and full of ability, but does that mean that they are the only ones who have them? Whether it's in a business, a church, a sport or something else, it could be very easy to see the obvious and yet miss others. Have you ever known someone who's able to spot a "diamond in the rough"? Maybe they see something in someone that everyone else overlooked or missed? They're not very common, but they are around. They have an amazing ability to see something in people that no-one else saw. God saw something in a young shepherd boy named David, that everyone else seemed to miss, and yet used him in ways that no-one else could have ever imagined. It's too easy for us to look at the obvious talent and gifted right before us. But I believe that there are many diamonds in the rough all around us. People who God sees and has great plans for, yet are unseen by most. I'm challenged today to look for those people. Maybe they need to be searched out and discovered, but I know it will be well worth it. And if you're one of those people, be patient. God knows and has a plan for your life. Watch this clip and you'll understand what I mean...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Strong Words...

I was reading Proverbs 11 this morning, starting my early morning off with some coffee and the Bible. Then my eyes came across verse 9. I was immediately halted by the first few words which says, "The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor..." I can't help but think about the power found in our words. As a popular songs lyrics say, "Words can built you up, words can tear you down." I'm challenged with my words. Can I call myself a Christian and destroy others with my words? Will I become the hypocrite mentioned in this verse? I want to be a man whose words speak life. Whose words lift, build and strengthen others. I don't want to give others an opportunity to call me a hypocrite because of my words. Every day we have opportunities to speak life or to destroy. And just as some enjoy building others up, some enjoy tearing others down. Today, which side will I be on? Only my words will determine that. Will I be a builder or destroyer of others? We all know what it's like to be on the receiving end of destructive words, usually not having a choice in the matter. However, where we do have a choice how we speak to or about others. I control what I say. Today what will you choose to do with your words?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thank You Coach Pete...

This morning the headlines said it all about Coach Chris Peterson leaving for the Head Coaching job at Washington. Will I be sad to see him go? Absolutely! But for most people they probably don't understand why he's leaving. I don't think it's about the money, pride or the fame, but is more about the challenge. As a former professional athlete I know what it's like wanting to face the best. It's a challenge which comes with an excitement for competition. Coach Pete has an opportunity to coach at a fantastic school in one of the best conferences in the nation. His opponents will be some of the premier teams in the nation with the opportunity for him to play for national championships. I don't see this so much as a loss, but a sending off to greater dreams and opportunities. Coach Pete won't forget his years at Boise State and much of what he'll do at Washington will be shaped after his time here. I think it's more of a sending out of Coach Pete. He's paid his dues, learned and grown here, and now it's time for him to see how the next season of his career goes at an even higher level. Coach Pete, we'll miss you, but thanks for putting Boise State football on the national map. Thanks for the memories. All the best at Washington as you're being sent from here to the "Big time" world of college football. Here's a wonderful article about Coach Pete and his move...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Aim to Please God, Not Man...

When you take a moment to think about it, whether we realize it or not, much of what we do is done to please people, impress others or out of fear of man. Even in my own life I can clearly recognize times where my motivation has been to please people. Even though I'd say my goal was to please God, when I got down to it, my goal was to please others. I think this is a fine line where people can easily get off track as Christians. In John 12:43 it says, "For they loved human praise more than the praise of God." This is talking about people who did things not to please God, but to impress people. They were more concerned about what others thought instead of what God thought. If your goal is to please man you'll always fail. You'll never measure up. So why would we even try to do this? Today I'm going to check my motives and why I'm doing things. Is is to be seen by others? Or to receive praise from men? Today my goal will be do things to please the Lord. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nothing To Be Thankful For?

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. What an amazing day as well as opportunity. When criticism and complaining seem to be the commonplace in culture, the giving of thanks is such a breath of fresh air. I've heard people who've said they have nothing to be thankful for. Hopefully you don't fall into this category? We are blessed! No, actually we're very blessed! I know we all go through difficult situations, trials and circumstances, but really, saying you have nothing to be thankful for? If you take a moment to think about it, what are you thankful for? Start saying what you're thankful for. Even write them down. I'm sure your list will be long. Something we can't forget is that thanksgiving requires action. It requires us not only to say it, but living it out. Merriam-Webster defines thanksgiving as, "The act of giving thanks; a prayer expressing gratitude; a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness." I want others to see me as a person of thanksgiving. Not only one day a year, but all year round. The Lord has been so good to me, how could others not see it in my words and actions?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting Patiently...An Oxymoron?

I'm convinced more and more that "waiting" is on the downslide in our culture. People seem to dislike waiting for things, opportunities or people. Even in my own life I recognize it. When you're following a driver going 32mph in a 35mph zone. When you're at a light that's red for you and there isn't a vehicle in sight either direction that has the green light. Our "waiting" seems to be tested everywhere and all the time. Now when you add to this the word "patiently", I'm definitely challenged. To many the phrase "waiting patiently" can almost seem like a contradiction or oxymoron. Waiting in and of itself can be a challenge, let alone doing it patiently. In James 5:7 the Bible uses these two words together. Obviously there must be something to it :) Today I'm going to look for opportunities to be patient, especially if I'm waiting for someone or something. I know it could be a challenge, but I'm going to depend on God's grace and know that in His strength it's something I'll be able to do :) How about you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letting the Past Hold You Back?

I'm realizing how much the past holds people back. Memories, experiences and regrets can things that many simply can't overcome. Everyone has a past, but your past shouldn't determine how you live. I love the challenge found in Philippians 3:13 which says, "No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead...". Forgetting the past is something we all must do and look forward to what lies ahead. I was freshly reminded of this. Take a moment to watch this story and choose not to let your past determine your future :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Let God Do In You What He Needs To...

James 1:2-4 challenges us by saying, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." Too often it seems like we're trying to get out of things, especially when it's something we may not enjoy or isn't at the top of our favorites list. But if we only stopped and realized that maybe God is wanting to do something in us. Often He uses people, situations and even trials to help us grow and mature. If we're always trying to wiggle out of things, how are we going to grow? If our desire is to become mature and well developed, we need to embrace the situation we're in, regardless of whether or not we're enjoying it. This verse challenges me. What I must realize is that if I don't want to be deficient in any way, I must endure all that I'm going through, especially knowing that the Lord is with me as I go through it :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lord, Change MY Heart...

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to focus on the shortcomings and faults of others? In fact it's very easy do if you're not careful. Yes, these shortcomings are everywhere! In fact every minute of every day could be filled focussing on these in the lives of others. But I certainly don't want to live life this way. How about I do something radical and actually look at my own heart and my own life, and make sure that everything's in order and pleasing to the Lord. How about me looking inwardly at my own wicked heart? I don't want to be someone who only points out the flaws in others, while overlooking those very same areas in my own heart. Looking at Jesus' life, He certainly pointed out things in people's lives, but it wasn't His focus and obsession. He would point things out that needed to be pointed out, but He also loved, encouraged, strengthened, prayed for and lifted others up. As I live for Jesus, I'm constantly challenged to live to please Him. I want to change because of Him. I want to do things because He wants me to do. Is this why you do what you do?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You Always Talking and Never Doing?

I'm proud of my good friend David Moberly. Why? Because he has had a burden to be involved in politics for a while and making a positive difference in his community. Over the past few months David has been campaigning for a Meridian City Council seat. And for being the first campaign he's even been a part of he did an amazing job. Although he didn't win his seat his finish was a very respectable one. I appreciate David and the action he took in seeing his dreams become a reality. And don't get me wrong, I'm sure it won't be his last race. Too many people are about "talk" and no "walk". David Moberly didn't just talk about being involved in politics, he actually ran for office. What's the point of always talking about things and never doing anything about them? This makes me think of Romans 12:9 which states, "Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them." People can pretend to love others by what they say, but that definitely doesn't mean they love them. Instead of talking so much about love, why not do it and live it? Why not really love people? What if we became people who did less talking and more living things out? I'm challenged in many areas to stop talking about things and start being a doer. To be a man who lives out life and doesn't just talk about it. Will you join me?

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Easy Life...Not Quite

It's funny how many people think that everything in life is easy because you're a pastor. No problems, issues, struggles or temptations, because of your role. Boy, that couldn't be farther from the truth. As a pastor I face the same battles, tests and trials that anyone else faces in life. I'm not special, privileged or void of these. But like anyone else I also have the same option in who I turn to. And that option is the best option anyone could ever have! It's God Himself. The One who loves me, strengthens me, protects me, comforts me, encourages me and is the lifter of my head. When I go through struggles and difficult times, He is who I turn to. He knows me, what I'm going through and what I need to do. You may be in a storm or trial right now, but you're not alone. Turn to the creator of the universe and the One who formed you, God. And if you need a little strength, courage and encouragement today, take a moment to read Psalm 139 :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And Adilyn Makes 3

In my last post I shared about my excitement for us new dads, especially those I know well and am going to be spending time with. Yesterday for one of my friends it happened. Brian and Katie Hesse had their first child, beautiful Adilyn Grace. I'm so happy for Brian and Katie. They have been amazing friends and this is going to be such a wonderful and new season in their lives. They're going to be great parents! Just like each one of us, we go through different seasons in our lives where things change. Brian and Katie will experience this now that there's three in their family and not two. Changes in the seasons of our lives are part of life. Sometimes it's a bigger change while others are smaller. Regardless, it's always important to keep the first things first. Keep your eyes on the Lord and follow His leading. Cherish your family and loved ones. Never forget God has great plans for your life. I know Brian and Katie will embrace these things as they enter their new season of life. Congratulations to you guys. Love you so much :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The New Dads

Being the dad of new baby at age 46 wasn't quite the script I'd written out in my mind, but is one I wouldn't change for the world. It's been an incredible journey these past 3 months. One of the most exciting things I'm looking forward to is spending time with other new dads. Several of my good friends have either become a dad recently or are about to. I'm excited about spending time with them and seeing our kids grow up together. I joke about us walking our strollers around the mall together on daddy dates with our babies. Being a dad is great responsibility and one of the most rewarding things too. My little Camille has been just the thing my life has needed. The Lord knows just what we need and at the perfect time too. I'm looking forward to seeing my friends around me be incredible dads that others can follow and have as examples. This is such a wonderful season and I'm so blessed to live out the script that's been written for my life :) Check this out too :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throw in the Towel

Have you ever heard the phrase "Throw in the towel" and wondered where it came from? It comes from the sport of boxing. When a boxer was suffering such a beating and those in his corner wanted to stop the fight and concede, they would throw a white towel into the ring. This would let the referee know it was over and he would immediately stop the fight. When I think about this, we all carry around a towel in some sense or another in our lives. We hold it everywhere we go. Occasionally we all go through difficult times and challenges in life. And more often than not we look at the towel we're holding and want to throw it into the ring of life to stop the fight. Maybe it stems from money, relationships, work or something else. Regardless of its cause, we feel like we're getting so beat up and suffering a beating. Throwing in the towel can be what we see as being our only option. But I say, "Don't throw in the towel!" Things usually aren't as bad as we think they are. We are being guided by our feelings and emotions when what we need in a time like this is faith. We have a God who is bigger than anything we go through or encounter. If only we'd cry out to Him for help. If only we'd trust Him and allow Him to help us. Regardless of the struggles you may be having in life, don't throw in the towel, but turn to God :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You Are Wanted...

One of Dara McLean's more recent songs is titled "Wanted" which describes God's love for us and how valuable we are to Him. Hence the title wanted, signifying how much God wants us. God's love for each person and the plans He has for them is truly astounding. In fact, it's mind boggling to even think about how incredible He wants us to be close to Him and for us to believe all He says about us. We live in a harsh and cruel culture that attacks, criticizes and puts down too many people. If you don't act a certain way, look a certain way, or talk a certain way, you are in jeopardy of being looked down upon. How can people see their value when everything they see or hear tells them how worthless they are? If only people would have the faith and courage to believe what God says about them and not people around them. If they tried as much to please God as they do people I think there would be some shifts in our culture. It's time to see how much God wants you and His amazing love for you, regardless of how you look, your upbringing, your possessions or anything else. You are valuable, precious and more valuable than gold! Today will you dare to believe what God says about you, and not others? Take a moment to listen to one of my current favorite songs :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Being Jealous...

We often hear it and sometimes even say, "I'm so jealous". It's often said in fun, but more often than not there's some truth behind saying it. Jealousy is one of the most dangerous things anyone could face. It's subtle, often slips in unnoticed, and is one of the most destructive things in life. Jealousy means, "Having resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success, or against another's success. It's a mental uneasiness that comes from suspicion or fear of rivalry or unfaithfulness." I don't know how anyone could joke about something so serious. James 3:16 warns us, "For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind." I don't know about you but I don't want disorder and every kind of evil in my life. Everyone has to be on the alert against allowing jealousy to worm its way in. All it takes is you cracking the door and in it will pour. Jealousy is one of the most wicked traps the devil uses, but there is a way to defeat it. There are several things I do when I feel jealousy is trying to make a move in my life. Firstly, I run to the Lord and thank Him. He is my sustainer, provider and source. Secondly, I get my focus off myself and onto others. If I focus too much on myself jealousy will always be knocking on my door. And lastly, stop comparing yourself to others and what they have or get to do. For me, these are simple and effective in crushing jealousy. I'm not willing to allow jealousy to have even an inch in my life. Yes it may seem like a small thing and even fun to joke about, but the reality of it is that it's dangerous and very destructive. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To Have Goals or Not to Have Goals

In our HITC Life Management class this morning I'm going over a lesson about goals and goal setting. Why is this important you may think to yourself. The answer to that is easy. Without goals "you'll aim at nothing and hit anything." I don't like the sound of that. I don't know about you, but I like to aiming towards something or have a target in mind when I do things. I'm not willing to settle for just anything simply because of my lack of goal setting or vision. I truly believe that if you don't have short term and long term goals in your life, you won't run with purpose, strategy or with passion. Goals are the specific, realistic and measurable things that keep you on the path of accomplishment and success. One of the things I enjoy about having goals is that they're an effective way for me to measure progress. By them I can tell whether or not I'm on track. If you are goal setting person well done. If you're not, you are in luck. There are so many incredible resources available to help you learn to set them and grow in this area. Don't be afraid to set goals in your life. They will help you stay on the right course and can help you move out of the same old same old into a path of excellence.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Today Will Be Grand, Regardless of How It Started...

I was having a pretty smooth morning till I came into the office. Then "it" started happening. Firstly, the large copy job I was running kept jamming on our copy machine. Then when I went in to get my coffee, and the coffee pot had overflowed all over the counter and floor. Arrgghhh! Then I asked myself the question, "Am I going to let these two things affect the rest of my day?" I couldn't because there was too much day left, which I knew was going to be full of potential and opportunity. Would I let these two little things cause me to miss the things that the Lord had set up for me today? Absolutely not! I finished the print job (and now feel like a copy machine specialist), and cleaned up the mess from the coffee, and am now ready for the rest of my day. In fact I'm chuckling a bit about it. This morning things might not go as planned or how you expected, but don't let what happens affect the rest of your day :) There are too many great things in it for you...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some of the Hardest Words to Say...

As Jesus hung on the cross, after being wrongly beaten, mocked and then crucified, He said some of the hardest words anyone could ever say, especially after going through what He had. In Luke 23:34 during His most painful and difficult time, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do..." He was asking God to forgive them for all they'd done to Him. He could have been mad, offended or even wanted to get revenge. Instead Jesus chose to forgive them by asking the Father to. It's amazing to me how we as humans can hold onto things for so long that often we can't even remember much about them. Yet because we were wronged, we feel it's our right to choose not forgive them. We feel that by choosing not to forgive, in a way we're somehow getting them back or are hurting them. Unfortunately, when we choose not to forgive, the only one it hurts is us. Regardless of what's gone on in your life, choose to forgive. It's not saying they're right, but says that you're moving on. Will you choose to follow Jesus' example today and forgive?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Little Bit of Joy Can Affect So Many...

I recently watched one of the most moving and inspirational media clips I've ever seen about a young man named Teddy Kremer. Sure there are obvious things about him that you could point out and make fun of, but if only you'd take a moment to look beyond them to see the incredible man inside. In the world of professional sports, mega-money, attitudes, egos and vices that come with it, Teddy Kremer is making a huge impact on some of professional sports elite. As a bat boy for the MLB Cincinnati Reds baseball team, he's had a profound impact on the team. Why? Because he brings a simple positive attitude that's full of optimism, joy and thankfulness. Can you imagine if there were hundreds and thousands of Teddy Kremers and the impact they could make? What if we brought the same simple positive attitude that's full of optimism, joy and thankfulness to our world? With all Christ has done and is doing in our lives, shouldn't it be easy for us to do? Please take a moment to watch the story at the following link and I know you won't regret it :) If you've ever asked yourself how you could ever make an impact on the lives of others, learn from Teddy...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lack-Luster Living...

Ever notice how we do some things passionately and whole hearted, and other things lack-luster and half-hearted? There are things we love doing and usually give those things everything we have. Lack-luster means, "Lacking liveliness, vitality, spirit or enthusiasm. Lacking brilliance and radiance. Dull." When it comes to life I want to live it with everything I have. I want to live like there's no tomorrow, regardless what comes my way. Sometimes we allow what we experience to determine how we live. However, I want to be known as a man of passion in everything I do, especially how I live for God. I don't want the word "lack-luster" to be associated with any part of my life! I don't want to be casual or half-hearted at all. I want Colossians 3:23 to describe the way I live, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men..." Today I will live with passion, enthusiasm and whole hearted. I will choose not to allow being lack-luster and dullness to be part of my day, because I am a child of the King! Will you live today with everything you have?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hearing and Listening Are Very Different

Listening is an art. In fact, sometimes I think it's a gift. This past week I spent some time with our HITC students learning about "listening".  Most people hear, but not all listen. Listening is the ability to accurately receive messages in the communication process, whether verbal or non-verbal. When you think about it, listening is one of the golden nuggets of communication. If someone isn't a listener, things can be easily misunderstood, communication can break down and people become frustrated. With the busy pace of life we must always be on the alert to truly be listeners and not simply hearers. Whether it's my wife, my kids, my friends, and especially the Lord, I must be a listener. One who always is hearing and understanding the heart of what's being communicated. I want to be a better listener. I want to understand the heart of others from what they're communicating to me. That means I need to stop talking, not be distracted, be patient, avoid any personal prejudice and watch for any non-verbal communication. These things don't come easy. In fact they take work and practice. But the payoff is that others will know you really care because you're willing to listen. Will you make the transition from being a hearer to a listener?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Babies and Trust

As our little Camille continues to grow, being just under 6lbs at her last checkup (at 8 weeks), it's amazing to see how inquisitive and alert she is. She wants to see everything around her. But the one thing that amazes me the most is her faith and trust. Essentially, she can't really do anything on her own (except pooping). Everything she does requires the help of another. Whether it's feeding, changing clothes, changing diapers, and even getting around, another person is needed. When you think about it, Camille is always dependent on another person. To do this her faith and trust in others must be unshakeable. The Bible also instructs us that we too should have the faith of a little one when it comes to trusting the Lord. Just as Camille is dependent on others, we too must be dependent on someone. And that someone is Jesus. We can trust Him in everything. Today will you choose to have faith of a little one and trust Jesus?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm All That and Have Arrived...NOT!

I think there's real balance required when it comes to how we view ourselves. Yes we are valuable, precious and treasured by God Himself. But sometimes we can get to a place where we put too much value on ourselves, because of what we think or believe. Before you know it we've fooled ourselves into believing we're "it" or that we've "arrived." Romans 12:3 gives us a glimpse of a golden nugget. It says, "I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are..." How easy it is for us to think and believe we're better than we really are. Before long we've forgotten about our reliance on God and what He's done for us, and are walking and living in our own strength. We're walking in pride or a false humility and don't even see it. As soon as we take our eyes off the Lord we can quickly end up at this place. Pride runs rampant in our culture, with everyone looking down on everyone else. Don't fall into the trap! Don't think you're better than you really are. I'm a sinner who daily needs the grace of God and can never forget it. My prayer today is that I never think I'm better than others or better than I really am. I'm simply a sinner who needs God's grace :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lids Coming Off

We're already into the second week of HITC classes for this school year. There's great excitement and expectations are high. What I've already seen as we enter this second week are the changes in the students. I've seen lids already come off. Things that have been stumbling blocks or obstacles in the past, are no longer what they once were. How can this be? Simply because of the desire of the students and the power of the Gospel. It's a formidable combination. Jesus is the breaker of chains, but there must also be a willingness on the part of the person, having faith in what Jesus has done. The good news here is that you don't have to be student in HITC to experience what they're experiencing. Any believer can live it out first hand. All it takes is willingness and faith. The victory that Jesus won is for everyone, including you :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Throwing in the Towel

Life sometimes has a way of crushing life out of people. The weights, pressures and stresses have a way of inflicting as much discouragement and hopelessness than ever seemed possible. You stand there holding the towel of defeat, ready to throw it in at the next bump you hit. It's one thing after another that pulls you down and down to a place that's so deep that you can no longer see the light of the surface above. This is such a dangerous place to be, yet so many people can easily find themselves here. So how in the world do you get out? How do you make it back to the surface? Definitely not on your own or by your own strength. For me there's only one option, the Lord. He's the One who helps me and gets me back onto a level surface. He's my strength and hope when life seems overwhelming. He's my shelter and refuge where the pounding of life can't reach me. He's my peace when I desperately need it. He's the One I run to and cling to. Yes, life can seem overwhelming, but when God is with you, nothing is bigger than Him and you will make it through! Psalm 107:28-31 encourages us by saying, "Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,  and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper  and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness  as He brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for His great love  and for the wonderful things he has done for them."  With the Lord you can walk through anything :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Goal is to Please God and Not People

Pleasing people can be a trap anyone can fall into from time to time, including myself. What are my motives for the things I do and say? Hopefully it's not to win the approval of others or to please them? I must always be on my guard with this. Pleasing people can become the norm if you're not alert. I can't forget that every word I speak and everything I do must be done for the Lord. Not to win His approval, but because He's the One I live for. Doing things to please others or to win their approval can be a heavy load to bear, as well as a dangerous one. Before you know it, your focus can be on pleasing others more than on pleasing the Lord. Something else to remember is that when it comes to people, there will always be those that you will never satisfy or please, regardless of what you do. What a burden to bear, that will never be accomplished. I'm done with people pleasing and now my focus is on pleasing the One who loves me so much that He chose to die for me :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

The New Faces of HITC

It's our last day of HITC Orientation today for this years students. We have had a blast, cramming as much fun, challenges, intensity and powerful messages into three days as you can. It's been amazing! I never cease to be amazed at the diversity of the students who come to HITC. They come from different backgrounds, cities and experiences. As I ponder this upcoming school year I can't help but think about how God is going to equip, mold, form and release these students. They have no idea what they're in for, but I know it's going to be great, because God is involved. Already there has been growth in their lives, overcoming fears and obstacles, and doing things they never thought they've ever accomplish. I'm proud of them and very excited for them. They are the new faces of the Harvest International Training Center. And as I talk about this new group of HITC students I also think about the many memories I have with all of our previous HITC students. They allowed the Lord to do His thing in and through them, and because of that I couldn't be more thankful for them and blessed by them :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Do You Believe the Best in Others or the Worst?

Sometimes we can be so cynical, harsh, and critical of others without really much effort. In certain situations we can jump to conclusions very quickly about others and before we know it, we've got everything figured out without even talking to the other person. Whatever happened to living out in life the phrase found in 1 Corinthians 13:7 which says love, "is ever ready to believe the best of every person..." Would others say that you're this kind of person? Someone who is ready to believe the best of every person? As I said earlier, it's pretty easy to be someone who believes only the worst in others, but I think it's time for us to start doing what this verse says, a little more often. Don't rush to conclusions about someone. Don't fall into that trap. Be someone who's ready to believe the best of everyone. Isn't that what Jesus did and still does? If you begin to do this, see what happens and be ready for a difference in the relationships around you :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Like Tests?

Everybody loves tests right? I'm not so sure about that, but what I do know is that they are beneficial. Webster's defines a test as, a procedure, reaction, or reagent used to identify or characterize substance or constituent." Essentially, a test can simply show what you're made of and what you believe. I think one reason people dislike tests is because they don't want to see how they'll do with it. But in all honesty tests are a part of life. Some tests are big and can carry big consequences, while others may not be as big. Tests will come in all shapes and sizes. When you go through a test who and what do you lean on? I'm thankful that for every test I go through I have 2 things going for me. Firstly, I have the Lord and He knows what I can handle. Secondly, I have faith. A faith to completely trust in Him through my test. I can't imagine going through a test without either of these in my corner. I'm reading a book right now about the tests all leaders must go through from time to time. I wouldn't call it a fun book, but it's very real and encouraging. I know that in my lifetime many tests await me, but I also know that with God and faith I'll make it through :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Regardless of How Bad Things May Be, How's Your Attitude?

As we all know, things don't always go the way you expected or thought. In fact, sometimes they can be nothing like what you expected. Sometimes life can be very challenging, difficult and frustrating. Perhaps your challenges are people related, money related, work related or something else. But regardless of what the cause is, there's something we must always be very aware of. When life is challenging, we may not be in a place to chance the situation, but we do have the opportunity to respond correctly to it. Remember Joseph in the Bible? He was in many challenging and difficult situations, yet he chose time and time again to respond rightly. He had every reason to get mad and want to take care of business, yet he chose not to let his emotions get in the way of choosing right attitudes. Today you may be faced with difficult and challenging things. Things that you can't change or do anything about. The important thing is how are you going to respond? What kind of attitude will you have? Choose to respond how Joseph did. Regardless of how bad his situations were, things seemed to work out pretty well for him :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Who I Am

Something that can be a battle for all of us from time to time is believing who God says I am, and not what others or even ourselves say about who we are. It's a trap that's easy to fall into. If God says something about me, then that's what I'm going to choose to believe. Sometimes we value too much what others say about us. We can believe what they say more than what  God says. If God has forgiven me of my past, why would others or even myself not do the same? If God says I'm His child and made in His image, why would I believe what others say if it contradicts what He says? Today I choose to listen to what He says about me and who I am. Today I'm going to live to please Him and not others. People can criticize me, put me down, judge me, slander me, talk about me behind my back and whatever else they want to do. Today it's not going to bother me because I'm more concerned about what He says and not what they say. I'm more focussed on what He says about what's ahead and not about what they say about what's behind. Today I choose to live for Him :) 2 Corinthians 5:17... Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! (AMP). Today will you choose to focus on what God says about you and not what others say about you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trying to Wrap My Arms Around It

Camille had just finished feeding her bottle  and it was about 1:35am this morning. As I was holding her I couldn't  stop thinking about the fact that this was my daughter. This wasn't a dream or a figment of my imagination. She was mine. I must confess that it's in these early morning hours when I get to feed her that I have some great times of prayer and many opportunities to think. Yes, it's still hard to wrap my arms around the fact that I have a newborn baby. What I have appreciated is how faithful the Lord has been as we start this new chapter in our lives. He has been with us every step of the journey. All of us go through new chapters in our lives. Some might be easy, some difficult and even some where you don't really understand what's happening. Whatever yours may look like, you don't have to walk through it alone. God is with you, if only you'll turn to Him. When you're rejoicing so is He. When you're mourning, He's comforting you. When you're weak, He becomes your strength. His faithfulness, goodness, strength and love continue to seen everyday in my life. Thank you Lord :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Remember This...

Yesterday, what we'd been hoping for, happened. We got to take our little Camille home. With a little help from our incredible nurse Kelsey, and the guy pushing Katherine in the wheelchair, we loaded up and headed home. We were on our own now. It's funny how I drove much more cautiously those 15 minutes to our home, taking no chances at all. Precious cargo can have a dramatic influence on you :) Driving Camille home took me back to bringing our other 3 kids home from the hospital, and all the things that flow through your mind. I've been here before and done this (but only with babies 3 times the weight). I can do this I kept thinking to myself. But reality kicked in at 3am this morning, which is my shift to feed Cami. My alarms went off, I got the bottle ready, and off we went. It's amazing how special such times can be. I'm looking down at her and she's looking up at me, as she eats. I'm holding a gift from God in my own arms. What a privilege it is. As I finished up feeding her, swaddled her and got her back down, I couldn't help but think about doing this with my other kids. And I thought, I remember all this. How special and precious it is. Before I know it she'll be all grown up and a big girl. So what's my plan? To cherish every moment :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ready to Get Her Home and Some Things I've Learned

Well the next step in our journey should begin over the next few days as the doctors release Cami to go home with us. It's been a crazy few weeks for us since her birth, and I'm sure that just because she's home the craziness won't all of a sudden end. Getting her home will simply be the next step of our journey. The doctor told us that "preemies" have very weak immune systems. This means that once she's home, we need to be very careful about who comes into our home and is around her. And we'll pretty much need to keep her home except for visits to the doctor. I have a feeling things are going to change around the Galway home. Regardless of all the things that are going to go on, I can't wait to get her home. There's just something about having a baby in the home :) The Bible says that we're to give honor where honor is due, and I must say that we have been so blessed with the nurses and doctors we've had at the St. Lukes NICU's, both downtown and in Meridian. They have made the past two and a half weeks so much easier. I've also learned so much from the care they've given to Camille and our family, that I can also apply when it comes to pastoring. It's funny how much you can learn from NICU nurses and doctors in becoming a better pastor :) Thank you all again so much for teaching me so much, and taking such great care of Cami :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

If Babies Could Talk

Have you ever wondered what babies are thinking? Or what they'd say if they could talk? For some reason I've been thinking a lot about this recently. When Camille and I are alone I seem to start telling her about all kinds of things. She's so attentive and curious about things. But wouldn't it be funny if she actually said something back? As I'm telling her all about her brother and sisters, what if she said, "I love them too daddy." I'm not expecting Camille to say anything back to me for a while, but just seeing her eyes looking at me, the occasional smile, and all her movement is just fine for me right now :) One thing I know about this little girl is that she's loved. We love her, the nurses and doctors love her, and I know the Lord loves her. He has such great plans for her and can't wait to see them unfold. As for now I'm going to cherish every moment with her, just holding her in my arms. I'll continue telling her about everything and love her every response. She's a gift to us from God...

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's Hardest For Us...

What a few weeks it's been since the birth of Camille Joy. It's still a little surreal to think that I'm a dad again and have a tiny, beautiful baby. There's nothing quite like holding all 3 or so pounds of her in your arms, pulling her close to your body. The joy of having this bundle of love and joy far outweighs the many miles we've driven to the hospital in the past 2 weeks and the many medical bills we'll soon start getting. But the hardest thing for me throughout all of this is easy to pinpoint. It's saying goodnight to her at night, walking out of the NICU, and driving home without her. Most of the time when you have a baby, after a few days both mom and baby go home together. There's nothing I want to do more than strap her car seat in our car and take her home. She's my girl and it's hard for a dad to leave her every night in the NICU. The other night as we pulled up to the hospital, a couple was loading their newborn into their vehicle for the first time. I was so happy for them. But this hit me harder than I would've expected. It's now been just under 2 weeks in the NICU with no concrete date for her to leave. I know it's going to happen at some point, but it doesn't make it any easier now. I have appreciated everyone's prayers, kind words and thoughtfulness during this season and encourage you to keep it up, because we need it. And I look forward to the day when we will get to take little Cammie home with us :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Helping Me to Remember What's Important

One of the best things you can do with a preemie baby is to hold them (often skin to skin). And this week I've spent hours holding my little preemie girl Camille. As I've held her I've told her about so many things. She's heard all about the Lord, her family, our home, what everyone does and all of the friends she's going to have, just to mention a few. But there's something about holding a baby that's just shy of 3 pounds. You have a lot of time to think. As I've held Cammie this week I've realized how crazy and busy we can allow our lives to get. If we're not careful we can allow deadlines, meetings, stress and everything else to dominate and control our lives. Holding a preemie in the NICU can really cause you to thing about life and what things are important (or what should be the most important). I know this little girl is going to be so good for me. She's going to make me think about things (and she hasn't even said a word yet) about things we don't think about enough. I look forward to our special times together and how she's going to challenge me to keep my priorities right. Thank you for all of your prayers this past week. Camille is doing well and last night was transferred to a hospital NICU much closer to our home. Hopefully it won't be too long before she comes home :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Lot Can Happen In A Week...

Today is my first blog post in a week. And what a week it's been. Yes, I'm exhausted, but so much has happened. It all started with one of our 3 weekly doctor visits. But at last Mondays visit my wife was admitted to hospital 6 weeks early. A couple of days later and I'm holding my precious 2lb 15oz baby girl. She's incredible! Tiny, but feisty and very focussed. It's strange holding something lighter and smaller than most dolls. But this one is definitely a keeper :) My life has changed and will never be the same. This little girl has stolen my heart. It's funny how God can have different plans than we expected, and at the same time He knows exactly what's going on. It's going to take some getting use to, saying I've got 4 kids. And yes, our Christmas photo will be different having 3 teenagers and a baby. But you know what, I'm so excited. I can't wait to see everything the Lord has in store for my little Camille :) What a gift from God.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Learning From Mistakes

Everyone loves to get it right. Everyone loves making the right choice. Everyone loves to nail it. But as we all know, getting things right doesn't happen every time. It sure is great when something does come together and works as it should. Or perhaps the time invested into something pays off. But often results are not what we expected. Perhaps you get a C when you were expecting the A. Unfortunately many people will only see this as failure. When a result isn't what was expected, you failed. Right? Wrong! If you're willing, there's so much you can learn from failure or a result you weren't expecting. Many people view failure as fatal and won't try again. I'm so glad that I never had this mentality. I've failed in many things, but the gold found in that failure is learning from it and becoming all the more wiser and stronger from it. Sometimes it's little things and at other times, big things. Learning and growth can come from failure. When you do fail, which is inevitable, beware of fear and discouragement. They always seem to appear when we fail. Don't listen to their lies and don't be afraid to get back in the saddle. Learn from you mistakes and failings, and you'll be a better person for it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Could You Really Say This?

It seems as if everyone wants to be a leader in some realm or another. Remember a leader is simply someone who leads others. I was reading a little this morning and some of Paul's words really jumped out at me. In Philippians 3:17 he says, "My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you." I've already said that a lot of people want to be leaders, but when you think about it, do you really want to follow their lifestyle? Paul is essentially saying to people, do the things you see me doing and live the way I live my life. Unfortunately, many people would be foolish to tell others to follow the life they live. If things in your life aren't right, why in the world would you want others to do the same as they follow you? One of the most important things that people can do when it comes to leadership preparation is leading themselves well. If you can't lead your own life well, how do you expect to lead others? Although many have tried to do lead others with things in their life out of order, most of the time it ends with failure and can deliver a devastating blow to others. If your goal is to be a leader and want others to follow you, start by leading yourself well and having a life that others could follow. Just like Paul, we should be able to tell others to follow our life as a pattern for theirs, and we can start today by leading our own life well :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

SavIng Others

A Maryland man is today being hailed a hero because of his actions. His 16 foot boat with 5 people aboard was off the Maryland coast when it got caught in a storm. It began taking on water and eventually capsized. So he decided the only chance they had was for him to swim to get help in the rough waters. Battling a renown storm tide and rough waters at night, he made the more than 3 mile swim in 5 hours, making it to shore at 1am. Once finding help the emergency responders and Coast Guard responded, rescuing the rest of the crew ages 70, 43, 9 and 3. It was a miracle everyone survived and I can't help but think of the bravery of this man. He put his life on the line for the sake of others. When asked why he chose do to what he did, he said it was his only chance to save his loved ones. I'm sure his family and friends will be forever grateful for his actions. This story also makes me think of Jesus, who chose to die on a cross so that others could live. He was the only one who could save a lost and dying world. And just like this man who swam for hours to save his loved ones, the reason Jesus did what He did was because of His love for us. As 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." Thank you Jesus for saving me :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Incredible Story

You may not have heard the name Steve Gleason before, and if you haven't, you need to know about this amazing man. He's a hero in the city of New Orleans because of the punt he blocked in the Saint's first game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. He gave the city something to cheer about. There's even a statue outside the stadium of him blocking the punt, named "Rebirth." What Steve Gleason gave the city of New Orleans was a moment of rebirth, encouragement and hope, following an event that devastated the city. Steve Gleason was an NFL football player back then. An athletic, strong and passionate man. But nowadays Steve Gleason is a very different man, since ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, has taken control over his body. It has affected his body, but definitely his spirit. So many things have been stripped away from his life, but there are some things that it can't. His love for his wife, his son and life in general is incredible. He may need an automated wheelchair to move and a computer to speak for him, but his attitude is contagious. I think about how often we can have bad attitudes or choose to have a bad day because of what happens to us. Then I think about people like Steve Gleason and how he chooses to make every minute count. How are you going to live today? Full of wrong attitudes or bitterness? Or will you to be thankful for life and live every minute to the fullest? Thanks Steve for showing us what things are important in life and encouraging us. Check out the following recent story about him. Unfortunately Steve has now lost the use of his body and voice, but there is a spirit within him that cannot be quenched!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trying to Go Through Trials Without Him

I was talking with a good friend of mine a few days ago who is going through an incredibly difficult season in his life. As we were talking, I couldn't help but notice the strength of his faith. His words seemed to bring hope and life in whatever he said. Then he made this comment to me, "Lee, I can't imagine going through what I'm going through without the Lord." That comment really got me to thinking. Everyone goes through challenges and trials, but not everyone has the Lord to walk with them through it. In my own life and some of the difficult seasons I've walked through, if it hadn't been for the Lord encouraging me, strengthening me, comforting me and at times lifting me up, I don't know how I would ever have made it through. Verses 16-19 of Psalm 18 are some of the most deep felt for me that the Lord continues to bring my way through difficult seasons, "You reached down from heaven, and you lifted me from deep in the ocean. You rescued me from enemies, who were hateful and too powerful for me. On the day disaster struck, they came and attacked, but you defended me. When I was fenced in you freed and rescued me because you love me." If you are going through a difficult season with things that are too big for you, don't forget they're not too big for God. Turn to Him and put your trust in Him. You don't have to walk through things alone. Live on the promises that are found in His Word :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

So Much Drama

If you hadn't noticed it, our culture is one that's filled with drama. And not only that, but people seem to be consumed with it. They can't get enough of it. Whether in politics, sports, news, relationships, schools or the workplace, drama seems to dominate. All you have to do is watch the millions of tweets and Facebook posts that deal with this. It's like people can't get enough of it. Lately I've been thinking about all the drama that goes on around us. Am I going to be consumed with it? Am I going to be on the edge of my seat waiting for the next thing that happens around the world? I don't think so. I think it's beneficial to be knowledgeable about things, but not to let them dominate your thought life and time.  To me there are too many things that are way important than simply drama. In days where my time is precious, I'm going to focus on those things that I should, and drama isn't one of them. I think Jesus words in Matthew 22:37-40 are what I'm going to focus on, "Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[a] are based on these two commandments." Are you going to allow the drama all around you to dominate you life? Or are you going to focus on loving God and loving people? I know what I'm going to do :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What People Are Willing to Pay...

One of the fun things I've been doing on vacation has been selling stuff on Ebay. Not only have I been selling, but I've been looking. I think about things that I have and then I do searches to see whether or not I can find them listed on Ebay. What's not surprising is finding my items, but what is surprising is how much people are selling them for. Recently I purchased a leather briefcase at a yard sale for $2 and the identical bag is for sale on Ebay for $225. I begin to think if people would actually pay that much for items and the answer is yes. I can't help but think about the value of you and I when it comes to God. We are priceless to Him and are the very reason He sent Jesus Christ to die for us. Items are one thing but people are another. We are so valuable to Him. Yes, we're priceless! We live in a world that frequently devalues people, but in God's eyes we're the most valuable thing in the universe. Today, you may not feel like you're worth much, but that's only a lie. You are priceless :) Britt Nicole's song says it all so enjoy it