Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's A Boy!

Well, my wife had the ultrasound this morning, and it's a boy! That evens out the kids now, 2 girls, 2 boys. My son will be happy. Now the task of coming up with a name for the little guy. Our kids names are all from the Bible, so we have to pick out a good biblical name. Sorry, not Goliath of Mephebosheth!

I hope to have another post in the next day or so. God bless!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bigger Than My Imagination

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Having kids has been a reminder of my own childhood. When I watch them play, I see their very active imaginations play out the fanciful scenarios in their heads. Like my older daughter's ability to come up with a one girl show, complete with a storyline and plot, with splashes of humor tossed in. Or my younger daughter's imagination running wild one day as she took the rounded plastic lid from her toybox, and pretended it was a sled-down the stairway! No worries, she was shaken up a bit, but I think she learned her lesson. Then watching my son get into his toy batmobile car, and try to drive it around the living room. Kids have such a great sense of imagination.

It reminds me of the times my brother and I did the same things. We would sled down the stairs on an old mattress-cushion thing with a smooth vinyl bottom. Then there were the times we would stretch out our bedsheets between our dressers, which were across the room from each other, and do running football plays, as if we were a running back at the goal line diving over the opposing teams linemen.

I had a big imagination as a kid. But now as one who has been "born again", made knew in a relationship with Jesus Christ, there are things I can imagine myself doing for Him. My dream and vision is to see a ministry started in Detroit's inner-city that is much more than a church. I want to see God raise up a place where people can not only find out that there is a Savior that loves them, and died for them on the cross of Calvary, but a place where they will find there needs are being met, from a hot meal to shelter to educational assistance. My vision is for a ministry center that helps those less fortunate realize the potential that God Almighty placed inside them, and to have the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.

I am not interested in simply stopping a bowl of soup, a kind word and a gospel tract. Those may have a place, but God has put inside of me a passion to not just tell them about Christ, but to demonstrate His love in a viable way.

Yet, there verses I quoted at the beginning of this blog absolutely blow my mind away. I guess that is a simple explanation of the verses, too. God's plans are so far above and beyond what I can think of right now. I am currently reading two books by Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. His story absolutely stirs me up, because he speaks often about the start he and his wife had in ministry. They had absolutely no training. In fact, Pastor Cymbala to this day has never been to seminary. His wife has no musical training, and can't read or write music. Yet, God through His mighty power raised up a wonderful ministry, with thousands in attendance and a choir that is just amazing. What makes this church so great isn't the numbers in attendance every week. It's the power of God through people who simply cried out to God to be used by Him, and to touch that city for His glory.

When I see the ministry going on in Brooklyn, NYC, out of this congregation, I see the great things God has in store for Detroit. Yet, even the things that God has placed in my heart seem too big, too impossible to achieve. Yet, the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9, that "eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for them that love him."

So dream big for the Lord Jesus, my friends. And realize that when God has placed in you that dream, you don't even know a fraction of it! Submit yourselves to His will today, and watch God use you for things that go abundantly beyond all you could ever dream up! God bless!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What's Your Name?

On Friday, I wrote about how we as followers of Christ tend to let ourselves “get ahead” of the Lord, to take the wrong position in the relationship we have with him. As I said then, this was Peter’s sin when he took the Lord aside and rebuked him for even thinking about going to the cross. Today, I am going to focus on another necessity upon taking a spot before the Lord, to try to force our own plans. Today, we will focus on the life of Jacob.

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Gen. 32:24-28

Jacob was a man that spent a good part of his life trying to get ahead, through whatever means necessary. It didn’t matter if it was ethical or not. He swindled his brother out of the birthright that would have been his. His mother and he conspired to deceive his father, who was blind, into believing that he was his brother, Esau, so he would get the blessing that God had promised to go to him. So instead of allowing God to work everything out, he continued a life of lying to get what he wanted. Jacob was a conniver, he was a deceiver. In fact, that is what the name Jacob meant. Here was a man living up to the meaning of his name.

Jacob was forced to run away to his mother’s country and live with his uncle, who turned out to be a bigger deceiver than Jacob. But there, he began to learn to do things right, and after twenty years in his uncles service, he left him blessed, God’s hand being with Jacob.

The time had now come to return back to the land of Canaan. What’s funny here is that Jacob thought he was running away from a problem, but he found that he had to face his demons after all. You see, Esau wasn’t Jacobs issue; Jacob’s conniving was his issue. He needed to take care of himself. If we are honest with ourselves, other people aren’t our problems either, it’s us. It was now time to take a good, hard look into his own heart.

As we read in the text, Jacob was really striving and wrestling with God. He didn’t walk away unmarked either. As he wrestled with the “angel of the Lord”, his hip got dislocated, and he walked with a limp for the rest of his days. Maybe we can call it a “battle scar”. But he was asked, “What is your name?” Now, we all know that God knew his name. So then, what does the question mean? Think back to what the name “Jacob” meant. It meant “deceiver”, or “supplanter”. What God was bringing Jacob to was an in-your-face realization of what he really was. He was a deceiving man. Yet, when he came to this realization, he was blessed, and his name was changed to “Israel”, which means “prince with God”.

Anyone going through a 12-step program of any kind, be it drugs, alcohol, or whatever, have to take the step first and foremost of admitting what they are. They will never find the help they need unless the truly take that step. It’s the same way spiritually. If we are to advance in our relationship with God, there will be times that we must “confess our faults”. It may not be alcohol or drugs, or an eating disorder. But you may be dealing with fear in your own life. You may be dealing with lust, or an addiction to pornography. Maybe you are an angry person. Whatever it is, confess it to God. It’s when you get real with him and confess your weak points that you find real healing.

We live in a time when Faith Teachers tell us not to make “negative confessions”, because “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Pro. 18:21). I submit to you that if we ignore those areas where we are weak, or are lacking, we can not receive what God has for us. It is not a lack of faith to state the truth. If I have a cold, or if I’m broke, it is not a faith shortage to admit it. Imagine if blind Bartimaeus, when asked by Jesus what he wanted him to do for him, had said, “I can’t tell you what I need, that would be a negative confession”? He made known to Jesus what he needed, and he was healed. Friends, it’s no different with us.

Would you get alone with the Lord Jesus today and confess where you fall short today? Believe me, the Bible tells us that he really understands. Just listen to what Hebrews 4:15-16 says:

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Get to the Throne of grace, friends, and you will find a God that is gracious, merciful and always ready to help. God bless.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Life in the Back Seat

**A special thanks to Pastor Neil Smith for giving me something to think about. What I thought about is as follows.

They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top {will reach} into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."Gen. 11:4

I drive a lot. I spend a good amount of time daily in my car, going to work, or to the store, or wherever I need to go. There is one thing I can't stand when out on the road with someone, be it my wife, or anyone else. That is not being the one behind the wheel. Not that I really like driving that much, but I like to drive because I like to be in control. I want to determine where we are going, and dictate what happens along the way. I want things to run smoothly, and I want to get where we are going ASAP. When I am not driving, I don't have that control. We get that way with our lives to, don't we?

In the scripture above, we are meeting up with a group of people who decided that they were also in the driver's seat. These folks had a vision, and they had the manpower to achieve it. That almost sounds like the making of great ministry to the Lord. But this was anything but that. These people had selfish ambition to make a great name for themselves, and let the world know how great they were. You see, these folks were descended from Noah, and if you recall, God had given him a command to be fruitful and multiply, to replenish the earth. Noah and his family did just that. These people a few hundred years later now had different plans. Life was all about them. It was certainly not about God.

It reminds me of another event in the Bible, that of Peter rebuking Jesus for his mission of going to Calvary's cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Peter, upon hearing this come out of Jesus' mouth, took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Lord, this will never happen to you!" This man Peter did not understand the plan of God, and how that the Christ of God, the Messiah, was come to be a "sacrificial lamb", to have our sin laid upon him, so that we may be forgiven. This man who just minutes before had voiced an amazing revelation that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God, now received one of the strongest rebukes anyone could get. "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

Ouch! That hurts coming from Jesus. But it was true. Let's look a little bit at the Fall of Lucifer, now Satan. Satan was an angel of great power. Imagine this mighty angel before God, worshipping and honoring him. Yet, this angel began to desire the power for himself, and he chose to rebel against God. Isaiah says of him in the fourteenth chapter: "For thou hast said in thine heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.'" (vs.13-14). Satan's sin was that he didn't stay in his proper place, but decided to try and outdo God.

That was Peter's problem, too. His place was one of following, not leading. The second he got all over Jesus about the cross, he took a step in front of him. Peter truthfully was more interested in a victorious Jesus wiping out the Roman occupiers and seeing the Kingdom of God established. Neither he, nor the rest of the disciples, could fathom what Jesus was going to do. Not only what Jesus was doing, but what they would have to do as well. They were called as disciples of Christ to follow his example, and to take up their own cross, not necessarily a physical cross, but to lay down their ambitions, their desires, even their ideas of what God's Kingdom should be like.

Yes, we like to be in the driver's seat. But the truth is, we don't even belong in the front passanger side! That's why I can't stand the bumper sticker that says, "God is my co-pilot". No, I'm not flying this plane, I'm like the flight attendant serving peanuts and Pepsi to those along for the ride. I'm going where he takes me, and serving others along the way. Our job is to submit ourselves to God, and follow him wherever he leads us.

God bless!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Down Through the Roof

And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Mark 2:3

Every now and then, I am called upon to assist someone by giving them a ride somewhere. There are times I give rides to work for a coworker. I do this without hesitation. The person needs to work, and I have the means to get them there. I remember one time when a good friend of mine had injured himself, and could not drive himself to the urgent care facility. So, of course, I loaded him up in my car and drove there. I’m sure there have been times where you have been called on for similar things, and undoubtedly, you did whatever you could.

We see the same thing happening in the scripture that I started this message with. Four men had a friend who was paralyzed. Knowing that Jesus was in town, they decided to take their friend to where Jesus was. They knew that sick people were healed by him, and other amazing and miraculous things would happen. The problem was, everybody in town knew that, too. They arrived to find the house overflowing out the door with people, all packed in, listening to Jesus preach. It’s a good thing these guys weren’t like me when it comes to waiting and crowds. I have no patience. I’ll drive around at lunchtime looking for the shortest line, even if it’s the fast food joint I hate the most, just because I’m impatient (I’m working on it!). Thank God these men didn’t decide that there were too many people, and give up. Instead, they hoisted the buddy up on the roof of the house and began to rip apart the roof! They then lowered the guy down right in front of the Lord. The Bible says that when Jesus saw their faith, he performed the miracle!

Perhaps the man was tired of always hoping for a miracle, and he had resigned himself to simply living on his back for the rest of his life. Maybe he was even upset at his friends for running him across town like they had. Whatever state this guy was personally in, it was the faith of his friends that caught the attention of Jesus.

There is a message in here for us. The Bible clearly tells us that it is our responsibility to watch out for the needs of others. We must be there when other people are in need of prayer, and other needs, physical and otherwise. Perhaps it is finding that person struggling with an addiction of some kind, and is at the mercy of it. Pray for them. Talk to them, tell them about Jesus. Be there to listen to them when they need an ear. Do whatever you can do to get them to the One who can do something! And when they are touched by the hand of Jesus, don’t set them aside, but stay with them. When Peter and John were on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer, and healed the crippled beggar, the Bible says that he went with them to the temple, and that he was holding on to them! When you see the prayer answered, and that person changed, it time to hold on tighter and help him in his walk with Christ.

I used to work an inner-city ministry where we would feed the homeless and poor people of that city. We would begin to recognize people who came in month after month. Many of the same people would respond to an altar call for salvation over and over again. They would come to Jesus, but be turned back out to the streets, to drugs, alcohol and prostitution again. Could it be that they had no one to hold on to them? There was no one to take the time and disciple them? That is why it’s so urgent to stay with people, and see them transformed by the power of God. It may not be some hard case like I mentioned. It may be the teenager next door whose life is in shambles because he found out that his folks are divorcing. It may be taking time to reach out to the woman who has just lost a child or husband. It meeting people at their weakest, and being the strength the need.

May God bless you as you seek to get that person to Christ!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not Just on Sunday

I want to put out a thank you to Darrell over at The Dawg Howse for bringing up the topic of worship. It got me thinking about what worship really is, and why we as Christians worship. When some people think of worship, they think of Sunday morning church services, because that is the traditional time to go to church and worship. Some also think that worship isn't worship unless they are singing a hymn or chorus. Some people think that they have to clap their hands, and raise them in the air to really worship God. While these are all aspects of worship, these alone are not worship.

First of all, we need to know what the word means. Worship means to express reverent love and devotion to God. It also means to ascribe worth to God. Simply, worship means to express our love and devotion to God, to realize that we are expressing to him how much he means to us. But you see, that isn't just something we do on Sunday morning, in a public worship service. Worship is private, too. We need to understand that worship isn't simply an act, but it is a way of life. Perhaps an illustration would be helpful. I love my wife. But how do I express that love and devotion I have for her? If I kept myself busy all week long, and only popped by once in a while to tell her that I love her, my marriage wouldn't last very long, would it? But I try to express my love, not just by the words I say, but by my actions. I show her my love in caring about how her day went, and taking the time to listen. I show her how much I love her by occasionally cooking dinner, and cleaning up afterward. I show her my love by surprising her with flowers or chocolates. You see, my love for my wife causes me to reach out and express it with my life.

It's the same in our worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives should be expressions of worship to him. It's not just about the songs we sing, or the time we go off to church, but it's shown through walking in honesty and integrity. It's done through obeying God's commands. Jesus even said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:15). We express our worship in how we treat others, through loving our neighbors. We express our worship to God in giving, not just money, but our time, our gifts and our talents. We express our worship by going to work and doing our jobs with excellence, because we are working not to simply please the boss, but The Boss, the Lord Jesus himself.

I want to honor the Lord in all that I do. I want him to take pleasure in my life, in every area of it. Just as Christ offered up his life as sweet-smelling sacrifice to God, I want my life to be that sweet-smelling sacrifice. It's my desire to show him my love for him by living out my life totally for him. I pray that it is your desire, too. God bless.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why People Live in California

I thought I'd share a few pictures of the wintertime. These are from an email I received called, "Why people live in California". God bless!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Leadership Principles

Today I was listening to a message by a pastor out of Lafayette, Louisiana, preached up here in the Detroit area, at a Youth Conference called Warweek. His name is Jacob Aranza, and he was preaching at the youth leader session of the week long event. He was talking about Biblical Leadership Principles. I won’t attempt to include a word-for-word transcript, but I will give a brief overview, hitting the main points. I don’t know much about Pastor Aranza, except that he is a former youth leader for years, and now pastors a large church, as well as planting new ones.

1. As leaders, we must be life-giving. We must be willing to pour ourselves into others. Does the way we live our lives stir people to live for Christ as well? Do we ignite a desire in others to follow God passionately?
2. The quality of life will be determined by the quality of relationships. And these quality relationships will cost us. It will cost us time, as we seek to make ourselves available to the person we want to “rub off” on us. I’ve heard it said this way: hang out with those with similar callings and giftings, or qualities. If you desire to be a prayer warrior, it helps to surround yourself with prayer warriors, etc., etc.
3. Quality of life is determined by how we solve conflict. When trouble arises, whether in your church, or youth group, or even at work, deal with it. Don’t hide it in the closet, so to speak. By dealing with the issues that we as leaders have to deal with daily, we also are saving ourselves a lot of headaches and stress.
4. You can’t treat all people the same. It almost sounds un-Christ like, doesn’t it? But let’s look at Jesus. He preached to the multitudes who just wanted another miracle. But he picked out 12 men to disciple, and then 3 out of the 12 that seemed to get special attention. He loved them all the same, but not all received the same treatment. Pastor Aranza spoke of the Parable of the Sower, and how some reproduced 30, 60 or 100 fold. Jesus then said, “He who has an ear, let him hear”. In Greek, the words “hear” and “obey” have the same root. Look for those who hear and obey, and pour into them. He said to watch out for the “spiritual leeches” who want to suck all the life out of you, and find the “spiritual investments” that want to do great things for God. By the way, this is a great way to change the precedent in your church of youth group. Those who do crazy things to win your attention will begin to see that it’s the wrong way to go about it, that they begin to see that being committed, faithful and obedient is how to go about it. Again, love everyone, just so no one thinks I’m saying otherwise.
5. Always honor, even those who are critical of us. Joseph’s brothers were very critical of him. Some of which he brought on himself, through a lack of wisdom about the sharing of his dreams. Yet, he was not critical of his brothers at all, and when the time was right, nothing but grace and mercy was bestowed upon them.
6. Trust is the bridge we must cross to carry truth to someone. The heavier the truth, the stronger the bridge must be. This speaks for itself.
7. Leadership is not an opportunity to finally be the exception; it is the privilege of now being the example. We are called on to be servants, our ultimate example of course be Jesus Christ, who “came not to be served, but to serve”. Don’t allow an attitude of superiority take root in your heart. You are a servant.
8. Finally, if God is with you, you don’t have to tell people; God will advertise for Himself. Stay humble, stay touchable. Enough said.
I hope that this is a blessing to you. And, by some slim chance that Pastor Aranza stumbles across this blog, thank you for this teaching, it has really touched me. God bless everyone.

P.S. Here is the address for the message so you can listen to it.
Click Here>

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


This past weekend, I was challenged. No, I don’t mean that I stepped out and took some huge leap of faith for the Lord. What I did, however was find myself being stretched in the area of mechanics. You see, for some time, my car has been sitting beside my house, because the brakes weren’t working. Finally, after months of sitting, I finally had it towed to one I know can fix just about anything on a car- my father-in-law. He is kind of an “amateur specialist” when it comes to cars. He really knows his way around them.

But, one thing that has always happened whenever I have taken a car to him for repair is that I didn’t just drop off the keys like at a shop, but I rolled up my sleeves and got busy, working alongside him. This weekend was no different. I went out to Murray’s Auto Parts, and bought the necessary items, and took them to his house, and he helped me to get the brakes working again.

I spoke in my last post of 2005 about stepping out in faith, with the attitude of Jonathan, that says, “Perhaps the Lord will work for us”. I want to speak a little more to that today, without beating it into the ground. You see, just as I did what was very uncomfortable for me this weekend, I believe that God wants us to walk past the borders of our comfort zones. It gets very easy to just sit on our hides, waiting for everything to be “just right”. If that had been my attitude, there would be quite a few things that I would never have had the blessing of doing. I wouldn’t be playing the guitar at my church, because I would have sat on the pew, rather than take a step, and fill a need that was there. If I hadn’t taken that first step toward the ministry that God called me to more than six years ago, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today.

I want to live a life in pursuit of the Lord Jesus. Yes, I know that He is in me, that He has saved me. But I want more of Him. One of my favorite scriptures of late is Philippians 3:12:

“Not that I have already attained, either were made perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am also apprehended of Christ Jesus”.

Out of this hunger and thirst to know Him comes this desire to do more for Him. Daniel 11:32b says, “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits”. Literally, that means as we come to know God, it will cause us to take action.

As we begin this new year, I want to make a splash for my Savior. I am not satisfied with the status quo, simply holding the fort till Jesus comes. I want to be like Joshua, and take the land before me, for God’s glory! I pray that you also desire to do something great for God. Be challenged alongside me today, friend. May God use you and your faith to make waves for Him! God bless.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

He Knows Exactly What We Need

This past weekend a need I've had in my life was starting to get fixed. No, I don't mean a spiritual need, or anything like that. For quite some time now, my car has been sitting next to my house, not going anywhere. I finally had it towed to someone who can fix it- my father-in-law. Though he isn't a professional mechanic, he knows his way around a car. You name, he can probably fix it. The term may be contradictory, but he is something of an amatuer specialist when it comes to automobiles.

We serve a Savior who is a specialist. Before His earthly ministry, Jesus was a carpenter. Perhaps He was called on to help build someone’s new house. Maybe He was called on to fix certain items that only a master carpenter could. But just as Jesus was a man of trade before His public ministry, so He was after. Yet, it wouldn’t be houses, tables, or doors needing His touch, but the lives of men, women and children. And, as any good master tradesman, Jesus knew exactly what each person needed.

In John 3, we read the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus one night. Here was a man steeped in the rabbinical traditions and the knowledge of the Law of Moses. But, as the Bible teaches us, the Law was powerless to save anyone, because of our sinful nature. It was intended to point out our sin, and show of our need of a Savior. Here was Nicodemus, face to face with that Savior. What did he need to hear? “You must be born again”, or be given a new beginning through faith in Christ, forgiven of the sins that have offended a Holy God.

In the next chapter, Jesus is seen in Samaria speaking with a woman at a well, who had come to draw water. Jesus used her drawing from the well as an illustration of a spiritual truth, and just what she needed to hear. Her true need was not physical thirst, but a spiritual thirst. He said to her, “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again: but whoever drinks the water I will give him will never thirst: but the water that I will give him will be a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (vv. 13-14). This woman had a spiritual thirst deep inside her that she thought would be quenched by something tangible and physical, like her love life (vv.15-18). But, praise God, Jesus knew exactly what she needed.

He knows just what you need too. One of the names we call Jesus is “The Great Physician”. We call Him that because He knows just what to prescribe to every one of us. He didn’t speak of Living Water to Nicodemus, and He didn’t talk to the Samaritan woman about being born again. Friends, won’t you let the Master Tradesman have a look at you today, and let Him give you what you need today. God bless.