November 22, 2017
Mine and Sheila's first date was January 23rd, 1988. That first date was the beginning of getting to know each other. Christmas and New Years had come and gone, yet for both of us Christmas was still around. Not really the celebration of Christmas, more of the consequences of "charging" our way through Christmas. January had become for each of us the moment of reckoning for our choices to pay for Christmas with a credit card. Christmas was fun, loved to give, celebrate friends, give more. Then to open that American Express statement in January... uggh does not properly describe the "unjoy" of a January mailbox jammed with credit card bills that you cannot afford.
Sheila and I continued on in this pattern of charging our way through Christmas for the first 10 years of our marriage. Then we had this moment where we read a little paperback called Financial Peace, we decided the Joy of Christmas could certainly happen without the mailbox mania caused by charging Christmas on a credit card. Since 1998 we have successfully navigated Christmas without giving birth to chaos in our January bills. These last 20 years have certainly been more peaceful than the first 10. It is not always easy, some years there were more presents, some years there were less. The better we have been about filling our Christmas envelope through the year, the better we have been able to give. The years where we were less diligent about saving for Christmas produced smaller gifts for our family and our extended families.
Black Friday is just days away, actually a lot of the craziness of the sales start on Thanksgiving night.
My encouragement to you as your pastor, your brother in Christ, and your friend is to tell you that you do not have to charge Christmas and deal with January as an enemy. If you do not have money to buy Christmas presents and want to give, bake, write letters of appreciation to those you cannot afford to give gifts to but want to give them something. If money is tight limit giving to just your children and don't give each other presents as husband and wife. Whatever you do - please don't charge credit cards for your Christmas.
January deserves to be celebrated again, let's welcome January instead of dreading the January mailbox!
Love you guys,
November 15, 2017
Breath of God
Over the last couple of months the Lord has been speaking to me about the power of His breath. His Supernatural power in one single breath.
Genesis 1:2 says the earth was without form, it was a void, it was dark, and there was a deep. Formless and void in that scripture describes a wasteland of confusion and chaos according to Strong's concordance. There was a darkness - an obscurity and there was the deep abyss. There really was an earth and it really was a hot mess. Then God did something that defies all logic, He simply spoke what He wanted. The process of speaking released His supernatural breath. This breath brought structure, calmed the chaos, brought light to the dark, and defined the abyss.
This release of the breath of God is one of the ways we know the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God in the Hebrew is called Ruwach. Wind, breath, mind, Spirit. Spirit of God, the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, co-equal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son. Ruwach handled form, Ruwach handled the void, Ruwach handled the darkness and deep. He can handle our issues here and now. His willingness to be involved in our lives started with this place called earth. The Creator of the Heavenly lights worked in unity with Ruwach. Beyond all the creation moments, God and Jesus have promised us the Helper (Ruwach) to give us everything we need to walk out our faith walk. The literal breath of God moving on our behalf for our good and the good of others.
This morning, no matter the hurt, the confusion, the chaos... You have a Heavenly Father, you have Christ Jesus, and you have the breath of God - Ruwach working for you, not against you. No matter the issue, no matter how formless you see a situation, no matter how void you feel, no matter how dark or how deep a situation looks to you... He is able! He owns the cattle of a thousand hills, He is our deliverer, He is our Healer, He is our comforter, He is our Strong tower. He is our everything and it all starts with us relying on one thing from Him. When we quit trying to handle it, when we allow His one breath to be enough for us, then everything is set in order. Trust Him, do not dismiss Him, and do not miss Him when He is moving.
Love you guys!
November 8, 2017
He Must Increase and I Must Decrease
John the Baptist had a rocking ministry. He was a prophetic voice for the One who was coming to save the world from sin. He was the forerunner, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. By saying he was "one crying in the wilderness" he was quoting Isaiah 40 and saying he was the fulfillment of prophecy. His ministry was purposeful, His ministry was ordained of God and His ministry had a following.
Then, the One whom he was preaching about came. The Messiah, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He of whom John said, After me comes a man who ranks before me. The Christ had come just as JtB had prophesied.
Preaching and speaking the Words of Jesus, the manifestation of Jesus, the return of Jesus and the Lordship of Jesus is really the easy part of what we do. Allowing the Lordship of Jesus to increase as we decrease is not always easy. You guys know I have said that I read the Bible looking for how to act in situations, and I read to gain understanding how not to act. John the Baptist was given to us in glorious form, to show us how to act when we are submitted and in the Lordship of Jesus. JtB was kind of a big deal, yet when the Lord showed up JtB knew who was The Big Deal. JtB did not shift ministry to keep the focus on growth, he did make more room for his mic time and less for worship and altar time. JtB was not jealous of the notoriety that Christ Jesus was gaining, JtB was perfectly content as Christ began to baptize people and they gathered to Christ.
Read this from John 3:25-30 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Recognition of Christ and who He is causes us to remember who we are. In serving Christ, in serving our family, in serving Crossroads, He must constantly increase in our lives... and we must constantly decrease. Always make room for the Christ, always make room for the Holy Spirit, we must always decrease our space and recognition. Doing so, will keep pride away, keep us humble and our decrease will keep us as pliable clay in the Potter's hands.
Love you guys,
November 1, 2017
Parameters that Prosper
Being a Godly person is simple. Incorporating God’s "best practices" into our lives is also simple, but not always easy. The good news is that Christ coming, living a sinless life, willingly sacrificing Himself on the Cross, resurrecting from the grave, and releasing the Holy Spirit as our leader, strength, wisdom, and power remain to be more than enough for us to accomplish every best practice we find in the Word of God.
Best practices defined, are intended individual actions completed to accomplish the vision of an organization. Sounds easy enough, right? We simply work within the set parameters toward success. As Children of The Almighty God, He has released to us His mind, His heart, His thoughts, His plans, and sixty-six books we call the Bible that are packed full of His best practices. The simplicity of reading, hearing, and doing His Word accomplishes His will for our lives. It is up to us as as Godly leaders to operate our lives, families, and serve in the church within these best practices.
Prosperity of Best Practices
I worked in corporate America for twenty-two years before moving into full-time ministry. I worked with large corporations which had best practices dealing with everything from professionalism, to how to make sure trash was removed from the property. When the best practices are clearly defined and put into action, individuals prosper, the corporation prospers, and the customer prospers. When best practices are followed in our faith walk, we prosper, our families prosper, the body of Christ prospers, and our Heavenly Father smiles on us. Obedience to God’s best practices brings great prosperity into every facet of our lives.
Where are these Best Practices Located?
The good news for us is that God has combined His parameters to one place and we all have access. The Bible is our source for every best practice we need to know. Just like in the corporate world, if a best practice is not completed, there are consequences. When we apply God’s Word to our lives, then the outcome is success and our faith walk flourishes. When our faith walk flourishes, others benefit. What a great system the Lord has put in place for us. Very simple, be doers of the Word, not just hearers of the Word (James 1:22).
Our application of the Lord's best practices is the catalyst to the blessings of God in our life, our families lives, and our churches. Here are just a few best practices you can take away and begin to use today:
*When we keep our relationship with the Lord right our family prospers. (3 John 1:2)
*When we read the Word of God and meditate on the Word our spirit man prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
*When we give ourselves up for our wives as Christ did for the church our wives prosper. (Ephesians 5:25)
*When we teach our children the word of God morning, noon, and night our children prosper. (Deuteronomy 11:9)
*When we lead our family in worship with tithes and offerings our finances prosper. (Malachi 3:10)
*When we honor our pastors our churches prosper. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
There are many more “best practices” I hope you will take time to find and apply to your lives. God gave us these parameters to operate in for our well-being, and the well being of others. When we are healthy and living according to His Word, then we can build the local church and His Kingdom for many years to come!
Love you guys,