Saturday, May 31, 2008
"During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord." - 2 Samuel 21:1a
There was a famine in the land, and David equated that famine to the blessing or lack of blessing from God. He sought God to know why there was a famine. The Lord did not take long to answer: "It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death" (2 Sam. 21:1b). Many years earlier, when Joshua entered the Promised Land, the Israelites were tricked by the Gibeonites into believing they were travelers when they were actually enemies of Israel. The Gibeonites tricked Israel into making a peace treaty with them. It was one of the first major mistakes Israel made after entering the Promised Land. As a result of the peace treaty, the Gibeonites were kept as slaves to Israel. This was never God's intention for Israel. He had wanted Israel to destroy all their enemies, but they made an error in judgment that required that they honor a covenant with the Gibeonites.
Saul made a decision to disregard this covenant with the Gibeonites and sought to annihilate them. David sensed there was something preventing God's blessing on Israel. As a nation they had violated a covenant made before God. Now they were reaping the consequences.
There are two things we can learn from this story. First, when we make a covenant, God expects us to fulfill it. God is a covenant maker. He made one with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He made one with each of us through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are numerous regarding the importance of honoring our commitments.
Second, God is a very longsuffering God. He gave Israel many years of grace before He exercised judgment for their sin. However, there always comes a day when God must uphold His standard of righteousness.
Are you failing to walk in God's blessing due to some failed commitment? Calamities can befall us for many reasons; sin can be one of them. In the case of Israel, David had to make things right with the Gibeonites. When he did this, God removed the famine, and Israel again was prosperous. When you feel you lack God's blessing on your life, ask the Lord if there are any past - generation sins that you may need to repent of. He may be waiting on us before He can release His blessing on our lives.
Friday, May 30, 2008
"He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." - 2 Samuel 22:20
Questioning someone's motives for their activities can become an overriding response to those to whom we relate. Wrong motives can result in broken relationships, poor business decisions, and falling out of God's will. Sometimes we do not know the motive of another person. It is wrong for us to assume what their motive is until we have confidence that we know their intentions. When we respond or react prematurely, we become judge and jury over them.
God has a motive for every one of His children. His desire is to bring us into a spacious place. He wants us to go beyond our borders of safety and security so that we might experience life at a level that goes beyond ourselves. What do you think of when you think of a "spacious place"? No limitations? A large, grassy field? Open air? These are positive images. Sometimes these spacious places encourage us to step out in faith into areas where we've never ventured. Sometimes we need to be rescued by the Lord. When Peter walked on the water, God was inviting him to a spacious place. He went beyond the borders of his boat and ventured into a whole new world. He didn't have complete success in his venturing out, but it was a process that would lead him to the next victory in his faith walk with Jesus. Sometimes failure is what is needed in order to move us to the next level of faith with God. However, we must be willing to fail and let God rescue us.
The Lord delights in this process. His motive for His children is always love. It is always to bring us to a new level of trust and dependence on Him.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Just a few moments ago I found out that someone I respected very dearly as a man of God passed away this morning. He was an amazing person, he was 95 years old, married to the same person for 77 years and he absolutely loved Jesus and was a great example to all those who had the honor and the opportunity to around him.
Through the person that he was, I am sure that everyone who spent anytime with him was changed or different through his kindness, love and example. He was a fighter, he never gave up, he kept the faith and persevered, and he never complained. He has truly left a legacy not just to his family but to everyone that he was around.
He made a different until his final breath and I can say with full confidence that is Heaven now celebrating with Jesus around His throne.
Thank you Brother Roy for making a difference in my life and for being such an amazing example. I know you will be missed by so many.
Their album is amazing, some great music, please check them out. Check out their music. It is definitely worth listening to. I actually have been listening to them since I purchased their two albums on iTunes...Home This Year and Live at the 9:30 Club.
These guys are so talented and can play just about any instrument. Just think I used to lunch with Jarrett everyday in the Green Room behind the T.C. Williams auditorium. I wish I would have picked up half of his musical skills. :-)
Check out Virginia Coalition you will not be disappointed.
Check Out this video of their single - Sing Along
"Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us." -Hebrews 12:1
I am the kind of a person who likes to drag a lot of stuff with me when I travel. I have been traveling for many years, yet I still overpack. I want to bring everything I own. But excess baggage makes traveling more complicated.
In the same way, when you are running the race of life, you need to run light. Sometimes, we drag along a lot of excess weight. But notice that the Bible tells us to "strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress."
Sin is sin, and there are certain non-negotiables to which we must hold fast. Then there might be something that is a weight in your life that may not necessarily be a weight in another's life. By that I mean, there may be something you are doing that is impeding your spiritual progress.
Periodically, I need to take stock of my life as a Christian and look at the things I am doing with my time. I need to ask myself the question, "Is it a wing or a weight? Is it speeding me on my way spiritually, or is it slowing me down? Is it increasing my spiritual appetite, or is it dulling it?"
So often we are busy doing a lot of things that aren't really all that important, but they seem important at the time. We need to ask ourselves if we need to do all of those things. Are they slowing you down? Lay aside the weight and the sin that hinders your progress.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Next weekend, NCC will kick off a series called One Prayer. Over a thousand churches will do a series that revolves around one question: if God would answer one prayer for the church-at-large, what would you pray? What an awesome question.
What would your one prayer be? Make Us ____________
My prayer for the church is...Make Us Desperate. Make us as a church absolutely desperate for God, make us hungry and thirsty for more of God. Make us so desperate for for God that we can't afford to be complacent or satisfied where we are currently. Make us so desperate to be devoted Christ followers as we live out our faith. God, make us Desperate People!
What is your one prayer?
Anyways, as I was walking I had my Ipod and listen to some worship music, specifically Overcome by Desperation Band and Rescue by Jared Anderson. As I was listening and just praying within my head and heart, I felt God really impress on me that I need to write a book.
God has been impressing this thought on me for about 10 years now. For me to write anything is very intimidating. To be honest, I am not a writer! I am not the best when it comes to grammar and English stuff in general, as you probably already gathered.
Also, I just don't want to write because I am surrounded by an awesome Lead Pastor who writes and soon to be a Discipleship Pastor who writes. Both of them are so much more skilled amd proficient then I am with the English language.
Perhaps I can get a ghost writer??? Not sure if that is cheating or not?
I feel God wants me to share my story and my journey mixed with ministry experiences and how He has helped me overcome so much in my life to bring me to the place where I am now and to take me further.
I feel like my life could be summed up in this title...My Own Prison, overcoming all odds or A Moment from Failure. I have had a wild journey that has brought me to where I am now, for a long time I have felt trapped in a prison of hurt, pain, depression, despair, shame, and guilt. Through it all God had His hand on me and helped me to overcome so much in my life and allowed me to do what I do now.
Hopefully, I will have the courage and the strength and the willingness to follow through with. Any ideas???
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
"I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity." - 1 Chronicles 29:17a
God tests His children to know what is in their hearts. God's desire for each of His children is to walk in relationship with Him, to uphold His righteousness and integrity. It is a high calling that we will fail to achieve without complete dependence on Him.
The greatest tests come not in great adversities, but in great prosperity. For it is in prosperity that we begin to lose the sensitivity to sin in our lives. Adversity motivates us to righteousness out of a desire to see our adversity changed. Prosperity fails to provide this motivation for obedience. We fall into a satisfaction and confidence in life that is based on our prosperity rather than on God.
Hezekiah was a great godly king. He was a faithful, God-honoring king most of his life, but toward the end he became proud. God wanted to find out if he would still honor Him and recognize His blessings in his life. He failed the test when God sent an envoy to his palace to inquire about a miracle that God performed on behalf of Hezekiah. The test was designed to find out if Hezekiah would publicly acknowledge the miracle performed on his behalf.
But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart (2 Chronicle 32:31).
Hezekiah's failure resulted in his children failing to carry on as rulers of Israel, and the nation would eventually be taken over by Babylon.
The lesson of Hezekiah is clear. If we are to remain faithful to our Lord, we must remain steadfast in our obedience to Him. Prosperity can be our greatest test. Ask the Lord to give you the grace to be a faithful follower during times of prosperity.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
-Go to the gym and workout for an hour and a half.
-Reread The Spark.
-Take some stuff to Good Will
-Straighten up the office/soon to be baby's room
-Straighten up guest room/now office
-Post some bookshelves that we are selling on Craigslist
That is it! Seems like a lot to get accomplished in one day for a day off. Mmmmmm???
"I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. . . ." -Philippians 3:14
I heard about one man who made some New Year's resolutions. In 2001, he said, "I will not get upset when Sam and Charlie make jokes about my baldness." In 2002, it was, "I won't get annoyed when Charlie and Sam kid me about my hairpiece." Then in 2003, "I will not lose my temper when Charlie and Sam laugh at me for wearing a girdle." In 2004, "I will not speak to Charlie and Sam anymore."
As the years passed, he changed his resolutions.
We adjust our resolutions as time passes because we are unable to keep them. But we don't need a New Year's resolution. We need a spiritual solution, and it is found in the pages of Scripture.
In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul helps us understand what our priorities should be. On more than one occasion, he used athletic metaphors to describe the Christian life. In this passage, he compares it to running a race. But we need to understand that it is not a 50-yard dash. It is a long-distance run. That is why we must pace ourselves.
It is not all that significant if you have held first place in a race for nine out of 10 laps. What matters is the 10th lap. Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner.
The problem is that a lot of people have a yo-yo relationship with God: up and down. Either they are experiencing the ultimate spiritual high or they are down in the dumps.
We need spiritual consistency, and we need God's help to stay with it. If we want to win in the race of life, then we need to learn to pace ourselves.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Monday, May 26, 2008
"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me." - John 10:27
An Englishman tells a true story of his encounter with a Muslim man while walking in the country. The Englishman wanted to share the gospel with this man but knew little of Muslim beliefs. The two men talked as they walked and agreed they would each share their beliefs with one another. The Muslim went first and dominated the time of sharing. The Englishman asked the Holy Spirit how to share his faith with the Muslim man. "Do you consider your god your father who speaks?" asked the Englishman.
"Certainly not," replied the Muslim man.
"That is one of the big differences between your god and my God. I consider my God as my Father who speaks to me personally."
"You cannot prove that," stated the Muslim man.
The Englishman again prayed to himself, "Lord, how do I prove this to this man?" A few moments later the two men began walking toward two young ladies on the other side of the road coming toward them. As they approached, the Englishman spoke to the ladies and made small conversation. He then said to one woman, "I believe you are a nurse, is that correct?"
The woman was startled that a man whom she had never met had just informed her of her occupation. "How would you know that? I have never met you before," she questioned.
He replied, "I asked my Father and He told me." The Muslim had his proof.
Many of us do not hear God's voice because we do not believe He speaks or desires to speak to us. In order to hear, we must listen. In order to listen, we must believe that He speaks. Ask the Lord today for a listening ear so that others might know that you have a heavenly Father who speaks.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Unfortunately, I thought the day was just too short and towards the end rushed and felt a little cut off from really sharing some things God placed in my heart and mind. I wish I had more of an opportunity to go deeper and further into some dreams, desires and passions God has given me for personal ministry and for NCC overall.
Other than that, it was good to lay some things out on the table as we look forward to the future that God has for NCC. A great chance to talk about vision and reestablish God's heart for NCC and Washington, DC.
I believe God is going to take NCC to the next level...I am glad to be a part of what He is going to do and I love the team that I am able to do it with.
Friday, May 23, 2008
"And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." -Luke 2:7
Imagine for a moment that it's your birthday and your friends and family have decided to throw you a party. It isn't just any party. It's a mega party. Everyone you know is there.
There are gifts galore and the largest cake you have ever seen. Your name is strung in lights outside the house. Pictures of you are on display. Songs with your name in them are playing in the background.
But there is just one small problem with your birthday party. Someone forgot to invite you.
At first, you think it is an oversight. You know they want you to be there. But when you arrive at the party, the music is so loud and everyone is so preoccupied that no one opens the door, even though you are pounding on it.
Then you actually see some people notice you and say something to each other. But they go back to their conversation without stopping to let you in.
What you don't realize is they have decided to just ignore you, assuming that you eventually will get tired of knocking and will go away.
How many people actually take time for Jesus? We often forget to make room in our schedules for Him.
Will you make room for the things of God? Even Christians can become so busy that we forget about Jesus. Is there room in your life for Him?
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Thursday, May 22, 2008
"In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys." - Genesis 30:43
Jacob left his homeland after suffering a broken relationship with Esau for stealing the family blessing. He went to work for his uncle Laban where he stayed for 20 years. It came time for him to leave, but he had no physical assets to show for those years under Laban. Laban had taken advantage of his nephew in every way. (In some ways, Jacob was reaping the seed he had sown his entire life as a manipulator and controller.) Nevertheless, God's hand was on Jacob, and He had plans to prosper him. However, Jacob had one problem - he had no resources of his own. For Jacob to launch out on his own, he would need resources. In those days, resources often meant large flocks of animals. God gave Jacob a dream that resulted in a strategy for creating wealth by multiplying his sheep. Even though Laban sought to thwart Jacob's efforts, God overcame the evil in Laban to allow Jacob to prosper.
There are many important lessons for us in this story. First, when God decides it is time to move you into a larger place of His calling, He has the ability to provide the resources you need to support the call. God gave Jacob a dream that resulted in a strategy never used before to build wealth. It was totally from God's hand. It was creative and new. God called Jacob to move out after he had demonstrated his faithfulness in 20 years of serving Laban. He learned to live under authority and served Laban faithfully, even though he knew he was being taken advantage of.
God will do the same for you and me. However, a word of caution: Be sure the strategy is born from above, and not from self-effort. The difficulty for most of us workplace believers is to learn the difference between the strategies born of God versus the strategy of self-effort.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." -Galatians 4:4-5
When we think of Christmas, we think of the arrival of Jesus: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given" (Isaiah 9:6). In reality, it was also a departure. For us, a Child was born. But for God the Father, a Son was given.
In heaven, the time had come for the departure of God's Son. We even have a record of Jesus' farewell words to the Father. He said, " 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, "Behold, I have come--in the volume of the book it is written of Me--to do Your will, O God" ' " (Hebrews 10:5--7).
Jesus literally went from the throne of heaven to a feeding trough. He went from the presence of angels to a stable of animals. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. Scripture sums it up well: "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor . . ." (2 Corinthians 8:9).
No one who has ever lived has even remotely affected human history the way Jesus Christ has. He has been opposed, censored, banned, and criticized by every generation since His birth. Yet His influence continues unabated.
There has never been anyone like Jesus, because Jesus was not just a good man. He was the God-man who came and walked this earth. And that is what we should celebrate every day.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him." - 1 Samuel 22:2
Have you ever felt that you could accomplish a whole lot more if you had more talented people around you? Perhaps you are in an office and think that some of your fellow workers don't quite measure up. Imagine what David must have thought in the years following his anointing by the prophet Samuel as the next king of Israel. He spent the next many years running from King Saul. Now God was beginning to bring men to support David. But what kind of men? The down-and-out. God gave David not the elite or the sophisticated; He gave him those who were in debt and discontented with life. David turned those men into the best fighting men of their day. In fact, David never lost a battle during his entire reign as king of Israel-quite a feat for a bunch of no-name, lowlifes! Some of those men became an elite group known as David's Mighty Men. These were the elite of the elite, the Navy Seals, the Few Good Men, the Green Berets. Whatever you call them, they were exceptional warriors.
Jesus took a few men who weren't exactly the cream of the crop either. He built His life into these men, which resulted in 12 men who turned the world upside down. Are you one of God's mighty men or women? Are you investing your life to build other mighty men or women? David and Jesus set the example of what can be done when we invest in others. God does extraordinary things through men who have an extraordinary God. Ask God to use your life to be a mighty man or woman for a cause greater than yourself. He delights in such prayers.
Monday, May 19, 2008
..."I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." - Matthew 8:10
The centurion came to Jesus and told Him of his servant who was paralyzed and in terrible suffering. He came to Jesus because he believed He could heal him. He told Jesus of the matter, and Jesus was willing to come with the centurion. But the centurion would not have it. He knew that Jesus, being under the authority of Heaven itself, did not have to see the servant to help him. The centurion understood authority. He understood that he himself had certain rights that his position granted him to have power over situations and people. He also was a man under authority. The centurion understood Jesus' position and what power that position held in Heaven - the power to heal his servant if He chose to exercise that authority.
When Jesus saw that the centurion understood this principle of authority and that He did not have to visit the servant to heal him, He acknowledged the centurion's faith. Jesus knew it took great faith to understand authority and whether He had the authority to do what was being asked.
God has placed a system of authority in our world that requires faith to operate under its boundaries: fathers over sons and daughters, employers over employees, government leaders over the people, church leaders over church members. These are authority structures God has placed in our lives to protect and guide us to His will. Some confuse position with worthiness or qualifications of that position. It is the position that God works through. The fact that an authority may not be a Christian may have no bearing on whether God can work through him as your authority. It is only when that authority counsels against a biblical mandate that we should not follow that person's guidance. The hand of the king is in the hand of God.
Today, we find few who understand this system of authority God has ordained. It requires great faith to operate in this realm. Yet Jesus said that when we understand this, we demonstrate the kind of faith that He rarely sees. Be a person of rare faith. See the authorities placed in your life as those God is using to protect you.
Friday, May 16, 2008
This time on Fridays are very intentional as we pursue and seek the face of God together. It is not only an opportunity to be intentional, but vulnerable and open with each other. It requires us to dismantle individualism, learning to trust each other, and come together for the common goal of seeking God. I also think this time propels further towards the realization of the kingdom of God.
Each one of us comes from very different and unique backgrounds, we view life and culture through different lenses and we all have had very unique experiences in life.
I value each one on the team but there is absolutely a sense of genuineness with the five of us that I absolutely love and appreciate.
I love these Friday prayers!!!!
"Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good." -Romans 12:9
One of the first things I remember taking place when I committed my life to Jesus Christ was the erosion of bitterness and anger and the growth of a love I had not known before. Years of bitterness and anger that had been building up just began to dissolve.
If we claim to be followers of Christ and harbor bitterness or hatred in our hearts toward someone, there is something very wrong. John was very distinct when he wrote, "If someone says, 'I love God,' but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?" (1 John 4:20).
John was saying, that if we have hatred in our hearts toward fellow members of the body of Christ, fellow Christians, there is something wrong in our spiritual lives.
Maybe someone has wronged or hurt you. Yet you are to love. You are to forgive. You are not to avenge yourself.
Here is why: that bitterness and hatred will do more harm to you than the person to whom you are directing it. It will eat you up inside. It will destroy your life. It will hinder your time of prayer with God.
It will hinder your worship. It will, for all practical purposes, act as an obstacle in the relationship God wants to have with you.
There is no room for hatred in the heart of a child of God. There is no room for bitterness. There is no room for prejudice.
God wants our love to be honest, and He wants it to be without hypocrisy.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Thursday, May 15, 2008
With that said.
I am enjoying the idea that I am going to be a dad. Wow that is a huge responsibility but I am looking forward to November. The little baby growing inside Lora is such a blessing, I am already enjoying the times I am praying over him or her and being able to talk to him or her. I am looking forward to be a positive spiritual influence and investing values in my child's life so they can form their own personal faith and believe in Christ.
Another thing I am enjoying is the solo CDs by Jon Foreman (Switchfoot's lead singer). He has released 3 solo CDs so far Fall, Winter, and Spring. I love the songs and totally enjoy listening to them. Right now, this is about all that I listen to on my iPod. I woould highly recommend that you download it or buy the CDs as soon as possible.
I also am enjoying two books right now, the first is Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley and Reimagining Evangelism by Rick Richardson. Both of these books are required reading. In a few days the staff here at NCC will taking a daydream day and Pastor Mark wants us to read this Making Vision Stick before we have this day of daydreaming about our personal ministries and about NCC.
Reimagining Evangelism is required for all the Zone Leaders by Pastor Heather. A great book that challenges you to invite people along with you on this spiritual journey and guide them along the way. Church needs to be about living together in authentic communities and relationships and not superficiality. At NCC, we want to people to get plugged into our small groups for genuine relationships and authentic communities so they can grow together on their spiritual journey. Small group is very important here at NCC and we see a great deal of life change and transformation take place through our small groups.
Finally, I am really glad I am getting back to the gym. I have really slacked off since October, however over the past few weeks I have been very intentional about getting up at 5:30 and going to the gym. I need to get back to discipling my body...in my opinion, too many Christians are good about doing their spiritual disciplines, but they fail in the area of disciplining their minds by not growing their mind through learning and reading, or disciplining the bodies through physical exercise and eating properly. I believe our it all ties together and you need to discipline those areas of your life.
Psalm 16 - New Living Translation
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
2 I said to the L
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
3 The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
4 Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of their gods.
You guard all that is mine.
6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
7 I will bless the L
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I know the L
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one[c] to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
What we are amplifying the most in our lives is what we are glorying with our lives.
In other words, what I am talking about the most? What am I most passionate and excited about? What is it that reflects from our lives? What are my actions and words saying? (By the way it is not an accident I put action first, it is very intentional.) What are our hearts fill with and fixed on?
David is such an inspiration for this. No matter what situation or circumstance David finds himself in, God's praise and His Glory is always coming out from his actions and his mouth.
The life that glorifies God is not easy, but it's not complicated either. We must turn be intentional as our attention to a loving, forgiving, merciful, graceful, powerful and awesome Lord of all. Allow His face to prompt our actions and words and satisfy our souls.
"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 know what God wants you to do." -Romans 12:2
A flock of wild geese was flying south for the winter when one goose looked down and noticed a group of domestic geese by a little pond near a farm. He noticed they had plenty of grain to eat. Life seemed relatively nice for them.
So he flew down and hung out with these geese until spring and enjoyed the food that was there. He decided that he would rejoin his flight of geese when they went north again.
When spring came, he heard them overhead and flew up to join them, but he had grown a bit fat from all of the seed. Flying was difficult, so he decided to spend one more season on the farm and then rejoin the geese on their next winter migration.
When the geese flew south the following fall, the goose flapped his wings a little, but he just kept eating his grain. He had simply lost interest.
That is what happens in the subtle process of the world influencing our lives. It is not necessarily dramatic, nor does it usually happen overnight. It is gradual, causing erosion in our lives as we begin to lower our standards. Soon, the things of God become less appealing, and the things of this world become more appealing. After a while, we have no interest in the things of God.
We have a choice: either we will be conformed to this world, or we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is one or the other.
The only question is, which way will you go?
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
The person who is leading the way with this sent me a link for a video on You Tube called The Tangible Kingdom. I love this. Check it out.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" -Romans 6:16
Whose slave are you? Maybe you believe that you are your own person, the master of your own destiny. But in reality, each of us yields or gives ourselves to someone or something. We are all slaves of someone or something.
I want to be a slave of God. The apostle Paul wrote to believers, "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life" (Romans 6:22).
This word "slave" was translated from a Greek word that would have been readily understood in that culture. It referred to a slave who had been bought off the auction block and was then granted freedom. In other words, the master would purchase that slave and then set him or her free.
Slaves who were so thankful to their masters for such a compassionate gesture and wanted to voluntarily serve them would be designated as a "bondslave," meaning a slave by choice. The grateful slave was not a slave for pay or a slave out of fear, but a slave by choice--a loving servant.
That is what Paul said he was, and that is also what we ought to be.
Whose slave are you? You're either a slave of God or a slave of sin. The choice is up to you. You can either yield to sin and pay the price and live a miserable life, or you can yield to God-- giving Him your gifts, time, and future-- and live life to its fullest. It's the smart thing to do.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Leaving my past behind
No more baggage
No more mess
Looking ahead, looking forward, looking to the future
A chance to be who I am
Living out my faith
Being a part of this grand adventure
No longer living in my own prison
No longer living in someone else's ideas
Fulfilling my God giving purpose, passions and dreams
Not sure what is next
But giving all that I am to God through His Son Jesus
No other way, No other hope, No other love
No greater joy
"What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?" -Psalm 116:12
A farmer who was known for his frugality owned a cow that gave birth to two calves. He said to his wife, "I am going to dedicate one of these calves to the Lord."
Knowing his miserly ways, she was very surprised and asked which one he was planning to give to the Lord. "I haven't decided yet, but I'll let you know," he said.
A few days went by, and again she asked which calf he was giving to the Lord. "I'm still thinking about it," he told her.
Then one day, one of the calves got sick. It grew worse and worse, until one night the farmer walked up on the porch with the calf draped over his arms. He said to his wife, "Honey, I have bad news. The Lord's calf just died."
Many times, we tend to give God that which we don't really want ourselves. Think about a typical day. What place do we give to the things of God? Maybe we utter a quick prayer as we roll out of bed or offer some hurried words of thanks over breakfast? Then we rush off to our responsibilities.
At the end of the day, we say, "Oh, right. I'll give God these last four minutes as I'm dozing off."
If God is important, then why do we give Him our leftovers? God doesn't want our leftovers. In Malachi, God said to Israel, " 'You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, "How have we defiled the sacrifices?" You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.' "(Malachi 1:7--8).
God gave us His best. Let's give Him ours.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Monday, May 12, 2008
These people make false assumption, they tell lies, don't tell the whole story, come from their personal perception, (until they become God they don't know it all or have it all figured out, by the way that is tongue in cheek. In no way, do I believe anyone can be God or become a god.) However, people continue criticize and be negative, they tear down and rip people apart.
My challenge to these people is this, get to know the one you are criticizing, know what they believe, know why they believe it, that should be a starting point. From there if you have a problem with that talk to them about it, have a conversation about it. Stop being negative, stop putting out lies and making false assumptions. There is too much sideways energy going on...we need to focus on reaching the lost, those who are dying without hope, those who need the love of Jesus Christ shown through the lives of those who follow Him.
These are a few my thoughts...
"Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully." -2 Corinthians 9:7
I don't know about you, but when Christmas rolls around, it seems as if there is always someone for whom I feel obligated to buy a gift. Although I don't really enjoy the process, I do it out of duty. On the other hand, it is exciting to buy a gift for someone you really love, isn't it? You look forward to it.
This is how God wants us to give to Him--not out of duty that says, "Oh, I had better give to God and help Him out." Or, "I guess I should help in the Sunday School. After all, God needs my help with those kids." Or, "I ought to go tell someone about Jesus, because God needs my help in getting the gospel out."
If this is how we feel, then we should keep our money, our time, and our service, because God doesn't want them. Our hearts and our attitudes matter more to Him than our "gifts."
If you give your money, time, or anything out of duty, constraint, or an expectation of receiving something in return, then your motive is wrong and it won't count for anything before God.
Your heart needs to be right first. Giving is a voluntary action. You don't have to do it if you don't want to.
Maybe you feel as though you don't have much to offer. God can do a lot with a little. Just take what you have, present it to Him, and say, "Lord, it isn't much, but here it is. It's yours."
Then watch what God can do and how He can bless the life that has been dedicated to Him with a willing heart.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." -Matthew 1:21
When an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, he was not only telling him that Mary had not been unfaithful, as he had thought, but that she was the virgin spoken of by the prophet Isaiah: "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7:14).
That prophecy, given 750 years before, would be fulfilled in Mary. The child she would be carrying is Immanuel: God with us.
What a staggering thought that must have been for Joseph. And what a staggering thought it is for us. It is really the essence of Christianity.
If you took the Christian faith and compared it to all other religious worldviews, this would be the clear distinction: Christianity is "God with us."
Christianity does not require that we try to somehow earn God's approval. The Christian faith teaches that it is God with us, living inside of us, helping us to be the men and women He has called us to be. Christianity says that we are never alone again.
Jesus echoed this same thought when He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). And in Hebrews 13, God said, " 'I will never leave you or forsake you' " (v. 5).
Maybe you need to be reminded of this right now. Maybe you are feeling alone. God is with you. Maybe someone close to you has let you down or disappointed you.
Remember this: God is with you.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I am super excited and I am looking forward to be a dad. As I look forward to the next adventure in our life, please keep us in your prayers.
You can keep track of everything with the baby counter in the sidebar area.
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." -2 Chronicles 16:9
What kind of people does God want to use? We find the same pattern throughout Scripture: the people God used were faithful in what He had placed before them. The people that God used for big things were people who were faithful in the little things.
Perhaps you have considered dedicating your life to Christian service one day, maybe even in another country. That is a good and noble aspiration.
But how about just serving the Lord where you are right now? How about seizing the opportunities around you today?
When God used David to defeat Goliath, he was on an errand for his father, taking food to his brothers on the front lines. But as he was faithful in a little way, God gave him more.
We know that when God called Gideon to lead Israel, he was threshing wheat. When Elijah called Elisha into the Lord's service, he was plowing a field. When Jesus called Peter and John to become fishers of men, they were mending their nets.
Not one of them was sitting around, thinking, "I wonder if God will ever do anything in my life?" They were busy with the work at hand.
While we're looking for distant opportunities, we might miss the ones that are right in front of us. Are you serving the Lord right now with what He has called you to do? Be faithful in that. Do it well. Do it as unto the Lord.
It may seem like your efforts go unnoticed, but there is someone who sees. And He will reward you openly one day.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
How to Play Cornhole / Corn TossCorn Toss / Cornhole Playing Field:
Singles Or Doubles Play:
Cornhole / Corn Toss can be played as doubles or singles. In doubles play two contestants are partners against another team of two contestants; in singles play a contestant competes against another contestant.
In doubles play, one member of each team pitches from one cornhole platform and the other members pitch from the other cornhole platform. In singles play, both contestants pitch from the same cornhole platform. All other rules are basically the same for doubles or singles play.
Every Cornhole / Corn Toss match is broken down into innings of play. During each inning there a top and a bottom round of play.
In doubles play, the top of an inning is completed when both contestants pitching from the first cornhole platform pitch all 4 corn bags; the bottom of the inning is completed when the remaining contestants (pitching from the other cornhole platform) pitch all 4 corn bags.
In singles play, the top of an inning is completed when the first contestant pitches all 4 corn bags; the bottom of the inning is completed when the remaining contestant pitches all 4 corn bags.
An inning is never completed until all contestants pitch all four corn bags.
Value Of The Corn Bag:
1. Corn Bag In-The-Hole - A corn bag in-the-hole (or Hole-In) is a corn bag which is thrown through the hole in the cornhole platform or otherwise comes to rest inside the cornhole platform (knocked in by another player or an act of God). A corn bag in-the-hole has a value of three points.
2. Corn Bag In-The-Count - A corn bag that is not in-the-hole but lands with any portion of the corn bag resting on the cornhole platform is in-the-count (sometimes called on-the-board). A corn bag in-the-count has a value of one point. For a corn bag to be in-the-count, it must not touch the ground or any other portion of the court prior to coming to rest on the cornhole platform. If a corn bag touches the ground before coming to rest on the cornhole platform, it is a foul and must be removed from the cornhole platform prior to the continuation of play.
3. Corn Bag Out-Of-The-Count - A corn bag which comes to rest anywhere except in-the-count or in-the-hole is out-of-the-count and has no scoring value. A corn bag which is declared to be a foul is considered to be out-of-the-count (no matter where it comes to rest) and must be removed from the cornhole surface prior to the continuation of play.
Delivery Of Corn Bags During Play:
1. In doubles play, the first side of contestants alternate pitching corn bags until they have thrown all four corn bags, then the remaining contestant (pitching from the other cornhole platform) continue to alternate in the same manner until all four corn bags are delivered and the inning completed. Delivery in singles play is handled in the same manner (but from the same platform) with each of the two contestants alternating their pitching of corn bags until all four corn bags have been pitched completing the inning.
2. A contestant may deliver the corn bag from either the left or right pitchers box (see above) but, in any one inning, all corn bags must be delivered from the same pitcher’s box.
3. Each individual contestant shall deliver the corn bag within 20 seconds. The time shall start when the contestant steps onto the pitcher’s box with the intention of pitching.
Pitching Rotation During The Game
The contestant who scored in the preceding inning shall pitch first in the next inning. If neither pitcher scores, the contestant who pitched second (last) in the preceding inning shall pitch first in the next inning.
Length Of The Game:
The Cornhole / Corn Toss match shall be played until the first team of contestants reaches (or exceeds) 21 points at the completion of an inning. The winning team does not need to win by two or more points.
The Cornhole / Corn Toss match can never end in the middle of an inning. Thus, if a team that pitches first reaches or exceeds 21 points, the game can not end until the other side is allowed to pitch all of their corn bags and the inning is completed.
If the Cornhole / Corn Toss match is tied at 21 or more at the end of an inning, play continues until one team or the other achieves a higher score at the end of an inning and wins the match.
The game shall be played to 21 unless a team scores 7 or more points at the end of an inning before their opponents score any points. It this case the game is a skunk and the team that scores 7 or more points wins the match.
In cancellation scoring, corn bags in-the-hole and corn bags in-the-count pitched by opponents during an inning (singles play) or half of an inning (doubles play) cancel each other out. Only non cancelled corn bags are counted in the score for the inning.
1. Corn Bags In-The-Hole – Hole-ins (HI’s) cancel each other. A corn bag in-the-hole of one contestant shall cancel a corn bag in-the-hole of his competitor and those corn bags shall not score any points. Any non cancelled corn bag in-the-hole scores three points.
2. Corn Bags In-The-Count – Corn bags in-the-count cancel each other. A corn bag in-the-count of one contestant shall cancel a corn bags in-the-count of the opponent and those corn bags shall not score any points. Any non cancelled corn bags in-the-count score one point each.
Cancellation scoring may be easily calculated as follows:
1. The points of both contestants are calculated for hole-ins and in-the-count corn bags.
2. The points of the lowest scoring contestant for hole-in corn bags are subtracted from the points of the highest scoring contestant for hole-in corn bags. The result is the hole-in score for the highest scoring contestant. The hole-in score for the lowest scoring contestant is zero.
3. The points of the lowest scoring contestant for in-the-count corn bags are subtracted from the points of the highest scoring contestant for in-the-count corn bags. The result is the in-the-count score for the highest scoring contestant. The in-the-count score for the lowest scoring contestant is zero.
3. The hole-in score for each contestant is added to the in-the-count score for each contestant to derive the recorded score for the inning.
4. In this manner hole-in and in-the–count corn bags from each contestant or team of contestants are cancelled out and only non cancelled corn bags are counted in the score.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
We played until about 1:00 am and I know we kept some of our fellow hotel mates up last night. However, we had a great time of laughter and playing. Fun times in Winchester!
"When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, 'Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.' " -Mark 8:34
Sometimes, we will say, "We all have our crosses to bear. My cross is my supervisor at work," or "My cross is this health problem," or "My cross is this relative." But I think we have lost the meaning of the cross.
If you were living in first-century Jerusalem and saw someone surrounded by Roman guards and carrying a cross down the street, there would be no question in your mind where that person was going. You would know that he was about to be taken outside of the city, laid on the cross, and crucified.
Someone carrying a cross was someone who was about to die. So when Jesus said, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me," His disciples would have understood what He meant.
Taking up the cross speaks of dying to ourselves and wanting God's will more than our own. It does not mean that your life is ruined when you decide to walk with God.
What it does mean is that you now will have life and have it more abundantly as Jesus promised, because you want God's will more than your own. Jesus said, "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:35).
Are you taking up the cross and following Jesus? Bearing the cross will affect and influence every aspect of your life. The result will be life as it was meant to be lived: in the perfect will of God.
Monday, May 05, 2008
"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:8)
In the Old Testament, we find an interesting story of how King Jehoshaphat took an uncommon approach when his enemies waged war against him. Instead of sending in his army first, he sent in the choir and musicians.
Imagine the scene: "All right, guys, here's the plan today. An army is out there, armed to the teeth. So, we are sending in the choir and the musicians." If I had been a choir member or musician, I might have wondered whether the king liked our music.
But God had directed Jehoshaphat in this unusual battle tactic. We read that Jehoshaphat appointed people to sing to the Lord, praise the beauty of holiness, and go out in front of the army saying, "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever" (2 Chronicles 20:21).
So that is exactly what they did. The Bible tells us that when they began to sing and praise, God sent an ambush against the enemy, and they were destroyed. God's people were able to go into this situation giving thanks, because He was in control.
In approaching God to ask for new blessings, we should never forget to thank Him for the blessings He has already given. Have you recently come to God for help and He came through for you? Did you come back to say "thank you"?
If we would stop and think about how many of the prayers we have offered to God have been answered and how seldom we come back to God to thank Him, it just might amaze us. We should be just as deliberate in giving thanks to God as we are in asking for His help.
Friday, May 02, 2008
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." -Hebrews 13:15
There are times when it is a sacrifice to offer praise to God, quite frankly, because we don't really want to. There are times when we are down or depressed or things aren't going that well. We don't really feel like praising the Lord.
Yet the Bible is filled with admonition after admonition to give glory and praise and thanks to God. Psalm 106:1 says, "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Notice that the Bible does not say, "Give thanks to the Lord when you feel good." Rather, it says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!" I don't praise God because I feel like it. I praise God because He is worthy, regardless of what I am going through.
Praise can be a sacrifice sometimes. I have found that when, out of obedience, I begin to praise the Lord, the emotion will begin to engage with my act of obedience in time. The point is, I should do it because God tells me to.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find the story of ten men who were miraculously touched by Jesus. Because these men had leprosy, they were the outcasts of their society. Yet Jesus went out of His way to touch them and heal them of this dread disease. Only one, a Samaritan, returned and gave thanks and praise to God.
Jesus then asked a provocative question: "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:18). In many ways, I think He is still asking this question today.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries
Thursday, May 01, 2008
So yesterday I determined within myself I was going to get back to the gym. After this morning it has now been two days in a row. This time around I am going to be more focus on cardio, fat burn and toning than building muscle mass.
My goal is to lose 30lbs in 3 months and get down to a size 38 and maybe 36 waist. Hey belly I am staring you down and you will disappear.
"Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." -Romans 1:21
A man who was nailing down a loose shingle on a roof lost his footing and began to slip. Working three stories above the ground, he was terrified at the thought of falling to his death. He started shouting, "God, help me! I am falling! God, do something!"
Just as he came to the edge of the roof, his belt loop caught on a nail and stopped him long enough to grab hold again. He shouted, "It's OK, God! I got caught on a nail."
That is how we can be. We cry out to God. He answers our prayers. Then we say, "It's OK, God . . . everything seemed to work out." But do we ever stop and think that God might have worked through certain circumstances to come to our rescue?
My point is, we need to put as much zeal in thanking God for what He has done as we put into pleading with God when we are in need.
I heard about a hospital chaplain who kept a record of some 2,000 patients whom he had visited, all who seemed to be in a dying condition and showed signs of repentance. Among those restored to health, he felt that only two showed a marked change in their spiritual lives after their recovery. In other words, when these people thought they would die, they repented. But when they recovered, they forgot about God.
What would you think of a person who always wanted things from you, but never offered a word of thanks in return? We can be that way with God, can't we? Let's remember to thank Him.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries