Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Want My Daddy

It all started with an unfinished dinner. "What's wrong? don't you like hot dogs anymore?" I asked Machaela, my eight-year old girl. She shook her head know and said she was tired. She wanted to go upstairs to bed. So off she went.

This would have been no big deal regularly, but tonight was special. Machaela and her younger sister and brother were spending the night at their Grandma's house, who they don't get to see very often since we moved nearly 1200 miles away to Florida. Tonight was a special night!

I went upstairs a while later to say goodbye to the girls (the younger, Gabbie, was already out like light!). I nudged Machaela and asked her what was wrong. She was awake and crying. "What is wrong?" I asked. It turns out that she was sad that I was leaving her. She did not want me to leave her there. "I want to be with you!" she sobbed. Well, soon Grandma came upstairs and helped her feel better with the promise of movies and popcorn.

As her daddy, I can't tell you how much I wanted to scoop her up and love on her. It always breaks my heart when my children are sad. But, what really spoke to me tonight was my little girl's desire to be with me, her daddy. It served to remind me of what we children of God need to remember-we too have a Father in Heaven, and it should be in each of our blood-bought hearts to desire him above all.

I am reminded of what our Lord Jesus not only commanded us to do, but also modeled for us. Several times in the Gospels we read something like this that Luke wrote: "And Jesus resorted to a quiet place to pray." Jesus knew who his Father was. And he longed to be with him. He enjoyed an eternal fellowship with his Father. In fact, in his prayer to his Father in John 17, Jesus spoke of the glory that he had in eternity with his father, and his desire to be glorified with that glory again. Jesus had a burning desire to be with his father.

How true this is of us? Jesus knew his mission, but he still remembered that this world was not his home. He was here to fulfill his Father's will, and return to him. And in that special prayer of John 17, he made clear that were in the same boat. "They are not of this world, even as I am not of this world". Speaking of myself, the cares of life, the worries, the money, the immediate needs all have a way of taking my mind off of Heaven. They can make me forget that I am only a pilgrim passing through, and not a permanent resident of the world.

The fact is, we are currently not in our Father's presence in Heaven. But that doesn't mean that we can't have fellowship with him. The Bible is clear that we are to spend time with the Lord. We need his presence with us as much as any person we read of in the Bible. It is in his presence that we find his peace, his joy, his overflowing goodness and blessing. In fact, Psalm 16:11 says that in his presence is fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. The Lord even told us that he has a table spread out for us, right in front of our enemies!

I am sure you've heard the saying "so heavenly minded, no earthly good". If not, it simply means that if we focus too much on Heaven and eternity with our heads in the clouds, we will be of no use in advancing the Gospel here on earth. But, I think it is equally dangerous to take our sight off of our eternal hope of being in God's presence. After all, Jesus died so that we might be saved, and spend all of eternity with him. A proper view of Heaven and everlasting worship of God should make us more earthly good as we save as many as possible.

So, where is your desire tonight? Are you longing to be with your Daddy in Heaven? I know that he is definitely longing to usher you into his presence. Hey, I know how much I wanted to pick my little girl up and take her back with me. How much more does our Heavenly Father long to take us home to be with him?

God bless!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Preparing The Way...

Today I am at home watching over my oldest kid, Machaela. She has a bit of the flu that started yesterday. The worst of it has passed, and she is getting energetic again. So, to pass the day, I was given the task of folding all the laundry that as been washed. In fact, that is my youngest child, Jayden in the photo. He wanted to help fold! We get busy, and often we live with one hand in the clean laundry basket and the other on the iron. But, when one of us is home, we get the chance to catch up and get a clean slate.

So, when I am not online blogging, I am folding clothes and putting them away. I am doing my best to prepare the way for my wife to return to a home with every clean article of clothing folded and put away. It is really taking away a lot of clutter that builds up. It looks so clean!

As I have been folding, that theme of "preparing the way" has been in the front of my mind. It has some deep Biblical roots. It was foretold throughout the Old Testament that one would come ahead of the Messiah and prepare the way before him. Just read passages like Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3.

Indeed, it happened just as God said it would (was there ever a question of that ?). John the Baptist arrived on the scene and began to preach that people needed to turn from their sins, even calling for a sign of such repentance, that being baptism.
John's ministry was one of preparation for the Savior, Jesus Christ.

But the need to prepare didn't end with John. Even as born-again believers, we too have a real need to get ready for the things God has for us. We have hinderances and sins that hold us back. It reminds me of a couple of kings from Judah. One king, whose name was Ahaz, was a wicked king who did heinous things in worship to false gods, like child sacrifice. When he did these things, he pushed his religion by way of example. The people of Judah would follow, sadly. They worshiped false gods on what was called the High Places. These were places of worship set up like mini temples and altars. God despised such deplorable worship.

Ahaz eventually died, and his son Hezekiah became the new king. The Bible says that he did right in God's eyes. Now, one wonders amid such paganism how he grew up loving God, but he did. And Hezekiah set things right, clearing away the pagan places of worship.

The New Testament makes it clear that we are to lay aside the junk that clutters our walk with God, as well. Jesus taught us that hearts filled with the cares of this life and pursuit of riches and pleasure will keep the Word of God from producing any fruit. He also told us that our decision to follow him must be of greatest importance in our lives. We can't pursue Christ and our own ambitions both. He bluntly said it this way: "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kindom of God." (Luke 9:62) He calls us to "sell out" our own desires and wants for a life in passionate pursuit of him. Hear him in Matthew 13:44. "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

The writer to the Hebrews gave us a discourse in the faithful of the Old Testament in Hebrews 11. Then in the next chapter, he brings their walk of faith home in our own lives. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:1-2)

What is in your life today that is holding you back? What is there that God is putting his finger on and saying, "let it go"? Look, it may not be sinful in and of itself. But when "stuff" holds us back from God's plan, I believe it becomes sin to us. Whenever our "stuff", be it physical or even simply ambition, it keeps us from running this race called the Christ life effectively. Why do you think runners wear the thinnest, lightest materials possible while racing? Why do swimmers shave off exposed body hair and wear tight swim caps? It makes them quicker, and cuts down on drag. It has less resistance. That is why it is so imperative to lay aside every weight that would hold us back from chasing our Lord Jesus. We just don't need our cluttered with junk we don't need.

Well, who would have thought all this would come from a day of folding clothes?

God bless!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Redeeming the Time...

*I apologize for such a long hiatus from blogging. I guess I have just been so busy that I haven't had time to do one of the things I enjoy so much. I will try to do better from here on.

Today we celebrated my oldest daughter's 8th birthday at a local park here in Lakeland called the Barnett Family Park. It really is a nice park, right on the shore of Lake Morton. The kids had fun in the park's "zero depth" water fountain playground as they got sprayed with water from all different angles.

We ate some pizza and had some good conversation with friends who brought their children to the party, then came the gift opening and the cake (baked it myself!). As the party was winding down, I was surprised when a teenage girl walked up to us and asked if she could have a piece of cake! I was there talking with my friend Matt when she approached us. The lady attending to the park and pavillion tried to dissuade her, but I intervened on her behalf. "She's OK", I assured her. The girl had been dared to asked us for some cake, it turns out. A lot of folks would get annoyed. I took it as an oppotunity from the Lord.

I invited the girl out to our church, and a she left to return to her friends with the cake. Something must have struck the two friends who dared her, because before I knew it, they had walked up to us. I started talking with them, and asked if they would like some cake too (we had plenty left over). They were actually surprised when I asked that. I brought them over to the table, and got to talking with them. Turns out that they had just moved to Lakeland from somewhere in Georgia. So, I asked if they had a church they went to yet, and when the said no, I invited them to my church,
Abundant Life. I asked them about if they knew the Lord, and they then had to go. They were so receptive to us. I pray that I not only will see them in church tomorrow, but that they will dive into a greater relationship with the Lord Jesus.

It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote via inspiration of the Spirit of God. He said,
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time". (That phrase, redeeming the time, simply means to make the most of every opportunity.) It is a sad fact that many Christians would not have followed such advice, but would have been annoyed that someone interrupted their time. I know, because I have been there and done that. But I had to realize that even those that come on the basis of a dare that is meant to annoy is an opportunity sent from Heaven to spread the love of Christ to those around us.

It also reminded me that I must have the mind of Christ. Life isn't about me and my family, even at my daugter's birthday party. God sends people our way who need what we have. That is why it is imperative that we show the love of Christ is all things. Christ had it made as he sat on his Heavenly Throne in eternity past. Here he was, the God of all that is, with everything at his word. All the glory, all the praise. Yet, the Bible tells us that he let go of all that glory and took on a human body. He became a man and was born into abject poverty. He went from the unspeakable glories of Heaven to the stench of an animal stable for us. And he took upon himself our sins as he hung on that cross, dying so that we can live forever with him in eternity. Talk about an inconvenience! But he was more concerned with our needs than with his own comfort! How is that for love?

I wrote all this to say this one thing: redeem the time. You may only get one shot at that person. Make it count. You may just make a splash in eternal waters for that person.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting Simpsonized

Here is my wife after a trip the Simpsonizer. Just wanted to share it. She looks good as a Simpson's character! I am doing us all, I'll post it when I finished them.

God Bless!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spiritual Baxters

This morning, I found myself being suddenly reminded of an old kid show I watched as a child. It was called The Great Space Coaster. The show featured a big clown named Baxter that drove his (human) friends around in a space ship.

My wife and I laughed at the cheesiness of the show, the goofy music, and the funny-looking clown named Baxter. But as much as I laughed at the show, the storyline I read arrested me. You see, Baxter was a runaway circus clown. He was abused by his circus master, who, after Baxter's escape, still hunted him down to take him back to his circus. Why? He had a unique ability to disappear at will.

He would use this gift to play tricks on his friends. But, his disappearing act also served as a defense mechanism. Whenever a situation arose that he didn't want to deal with, he simply disappeared. Sounds awfully human, doesn't it? Certainly, in the midst of the cheesiness, the show's writers were ingenious to make Baxter do this. How many kids deal with hard life issues and simply wish they could disappear? How many do disappear into a dark place in their soul?

I understand that feeling. I went through a tough time when my parents divorced. And my dad's subsequent relationship that only pushed me farther away. I often retreated into a dark place in my own soul. But, even us adults have our scary times that drive us into hiding. Whether it's death or divorce, financial hardship or family troubles, we too, like Baxter the clown, retreat into our hiding places. We shut ourselves away from people, from problems, and ultimately, from the Lord.

Thankfully, God has filled His Word with story after story of people that had their own times of trouble in which they wished they could escape. Check this list out:

Adam and Eve hid in the bushes.

Jacob ran miles away to hide from his brother.

Elijah ran to hide from the wicked Jezebel.

Jonah tried hiding in the bottom of a boat.

Peter hid in his fishing boat.

This is so far from what the Lord Jesus has for us. The only hiding place he wants us to retreat to is His Holy Presence. Just listen to the words of our Lord in Matthew 11:28:

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

When tough times arise, when our hearts are weary, what we need to do is "run to the Rock that is higher" than we are (see Psalm 61:2). There, our loving Savior is waiting to take the cares that so weigh us down. He is, as Hebrews 4:15 says, touched by the feeling of our weaknesses.

Friends, instead of retreating into that hiding place where even the Lord is locked out, run to the Savior. The God that was big enough to create this whole universe with just words is waiting to speak peace in midst of your storm.

God bless!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who's Your Hero?

Tonight, I was interested in a video that one of my best friends, Pastor Justin Stewart, did a year or so ago at the Church of God Michigan Youth Camp. He is amazing when it comes to shooting and editing videos, and he and another friend from Michigan, Dave Moore did this together. (Both are now here in Florida)

The theme is of course superheroes. I think you will all love the ending. I could come up with a devotion or sermon on it, but this video says it all. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Did It!

I just wanted to toss up a quick post to say I finally did it! For the first time in 4 or 5 years, I have fallen below the 200 pound mark! I now weigh 199 pounds.

Since moving down here to Lakeland, I have been working as a lawn spray technician. Working outside has really been a blessing. It has forced me to be mobile. I walk all day long, either dragging a 300 foot spray hose, or carrying a 40-pound backpack sprayer to kill off weeds. All the exercise has really paid off. In just about 4 months, I have dropped about 20 pounds.

The cool thing is that I haven't really changed my diet. I drink a lot more water because I need it in the hot Florida sun after a few minutes of that hose. I cut back significantly on soda pop, drinking it moderately. I don't really eat all that different, though I try to eat a little more in the way of fruits and vegetables. The stuff grown here is great.

Anyway, that is it. Nothing too deep today, I just wanted to shout out to everyone that I am losing weight and feeling good!

God bless!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Day After Pentecost

Yesterday was Sunday, May 28th. It was not just an ordinary weekend. Yes, it was part of Memorial Day weekend, but that isn't what made it so special. Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. It's the day we celebrate the birth of Church Universal. On that day some two millennia ago, the disciples of Jesus Christ were in a prayer meeting that lasted 10 days. As they prayed and sought God, the Bible records this happening:

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."

I am sure that the 120 followers of Christ there in that upper room that day were taken by surprise. They knew that somehow they would receive power. The Lord had told them that 10 days prior, just before he ascended into heaven. And now here they were, suddenly empowered by the Spirit of God, and they began to speak in languages that they did not know. They spilled out onto the streets, speaking in these languages. The city was full that day of folks from all over that region for the feast of Pentecost. They suddenly heard these disciples speaking in their own native languages "the mighty deeds of God". God used this event not only to fill his church with his spirit, but to bring a whopping 3000 souls into his Kingdom that day.

How many times have I been in services not too unlike that? Times when I have witnessed people being baptized in the Holy Spirit? The times that I have seen people healed by God's power? Most importantly, seen people running down the aisles to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior as the Spirit of God drew them? I have been in some great services where heaven really touched us. It is an amazing thing to experience.

But I think this is area we need to be careful. I have found from my personal experience that we can begin to think that the Spirit's power is for having great church services. There is a place for that, certainly, but that isn't the point. We have been empowered by the Spirit of God to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ, not to simply "have church".

Once the service is over, and we make our way back home, back to our everyday lives, is when the real work begins. That first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as well as our fillings nowadays, serve to prepare us to minister to a lost world. The real meat and potatoes begin the day after Pentecost.

That is where we find Peter and John. They weren't back in the upper room trying to get what they felt the day before. They were on the way to the temple at the hour of prayer. In other words, life didn't pause at the initial experience, it went on. They were doing what all good Jews were supposed to do. Spend time in prayer. But that is when they found a need. That is where they saw him, the man who couldn't walk. He was a beggar. He sat at the temple gate daily, begging for money. He had no other way to make a living. But that was all about to change.

I suppose they could have run back to their friends and taken a collection. Preachers are good at that, aren't they? But that would serve to prolong his condition another day. He didn't need money, he needed a good set of legs. So, that is when we see Peter telling this man that he had no money, but something far greater. He said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk". He stuck out a hand, and lifted him to his feet. The Bible says that immediately, his feet and ankle bones received strength, and we went leaping and running into the temple, praising God!

You see, we are empowered by the Spirit for this. It is for everyday life. Going to work. Taking our kids to the doctor. Shopping at Publix for groceries. You get the point. That is where the people are. There are souls out there in the balance, they need to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We may not happen upon a lame man everyday, but we encounter spiritually immobile people every day.

That day of Pentecost, as Pastor Noland Colkmire, associate pastor at my church, said last night, was heaven touching earth. And indeed it was. But heaven desires to touch earth now, through vessels of human skin. Every time we meet someone where they are and show them the Lord Jesus in us, heaven touches earth. Every time we give a hot meal to a homeless person in Christ's name, heaven touches earth. Every time we lead a sinner to the Lord Jesus for salvation from their sin, heaven touches earth. We were filled so God can use his people to touch this world.

I hope and pray that you "make the most of every opportunity" as the Word of God tells us (Ephesians 5:16; Col. 4:5). God bless, my friends!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bahamian Reflections

Hey, all. Forgive me, I know that it has been too long since I've written anything. I have been so busy that I haven't got the time to blog much.

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since my trip to Freeport, Bahamas. In fact, that picture at the top of the page is one I took on the beach at Port Lucaya, right behind the Shearton resort. We had some time to hang out and swim, shop and sightsee on that Saturday at Caribfest. But, it wasn't all fun and games.

I have had some time to process the experience. This wasn't just another getaway. We went there to do ministry to youth that really need it. But, as I have so found to be true with ministry in general, I walked away from that weekend feeling like the one who was ministered too. Not just by the people who put the program together, but by the folks we were there for. And ultimately, by the Lord Himself.

I'd like to say that I was on top of my game all weekend. I wasn't. The day before the boat set sail, we had to drive to Ft. Lauderdale, where the port is. That is at least a 3-hour drive. I still had to work that day, so I was up at my usual 5 AM. We got to the church we camped at Thursday night around 11:30, and went to see Spiderman 3 (great movie!). Didn't end till 2:30, and we had to leave at 5 AM Friday. So, I stayed up with several others and played "horse" basketball in the church's youth area. So, by the time the Friday opening service was winding down, it was nearly 11 PM. I had been awake for 42 hours! So, as the man of God was preaching his heart out, I was nodding. We sent an early bus with me on it back to our hotel and I finally got some sleep. So, Friday was pretty much shot for me.

Saturday night's service, I was still tired, but God moved, and we ministered to the youth in Freeport. Then we all hung out in the pool and hot tub, and sat around with an acoustic guitar singing worship songs into the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday morning service is where I believe God really touched me. The pastor of the church that we held the event at was speaking with the congregation when he called on a sister to sing impromptu. What followed was absolutely heavenly. I saw in the people there on that island such a pure worship that I almost felt unworthy to even sit in the same sanctuary. As she sang and worshiped, the beauty of that worship in that building rubbed off on me, and I began to worship with them. Tears began to flow, and I could not stop them. Part in love and reverence for a God who loved me enough to die for me, part in repentance for shallow worship bogged down with the cares of this life.

One thing I believe that God showed me that morning was that I really was bogged down and focused more on this life and my own issues than on a Savior who gave his all for me. Worries will hinder our worship. They can hold us back from serving God with our whole heart. Just look at what the Lord told us in Matthew 6:26-30:

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?...But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!"

Worry can kill our faith in God. That is where much of the church in America is. We worry about our children, our possessions, our money, and our health. We worry about countless other things. Yet, as Jesus himself said, our worry can't help us out any.

I have decided to not let my worship get hindered by my problems. God is much bigger than my troubles, anyway. He is able to take care of me.

This really was a life-changing trip for me.

God bless!

Monday, April 16, 2007


I have been doing some thinking today. I found myself reviewing back on some of the history of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). The COG has the distinction as the oldest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, going back to 1886. The people who started this great church had broken from the mainline churches of the day, Baptist and Methodist. They wanted a church that was free from man-made creeds. They wanted a church that was a true New Testament church. Early on, they were led by a man named R.G. Spurling and his son.

After about 10 years, the church, then called the "Christian Union", experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 130 folks were in attendance, and they spoke in languages that they did not know, just as the early church did, as documented in the book of Acts. What they experienced was just was the Lord Jesus himself said that the disciples would experience. They received the power of the Spirit of God in their lives. And it showed. Really, the COG was a missionary church from its beginning.

As the members of the denomination would move, they would start new churches. They were Biblical pioneers. They began foreign missions when they sent their first missionary to the Caribbean.

Why do I take the time to write out a brief history of the church? Because I see in those few original members something that we need to retain in the COG today. They were missional, meaning that they were focused on the mission of Jesus. They preached the Gospel to all who would listen. They were outward-focused.

I think that we in the COG today need this reminder. I have been in quite a few churches in the COG, and some are mission-focused, while others are not. Not that the leadership of such congregations wants it that way, but people have a tendency to get comfortable and complacent with the status quo. We lose our drive and passion to win lost souls sometimes. As a result, some of our churches become a museum of the past, rather than pushing on to the future. A place that people focus on the great things God did "back then". But, friends, we serve a God who desires to move and bless us now.

That brings me to the 2nd part of this article. We have in the church world as a whole those who seem to swing far the other way. There are Pentecostal pastors that would rather its members not speak in tongues, or pray with gusto, in the services. They feel that such manifestations only push the unbeliever away that might attend. Now, I feel that all must be done decently and in order, as the Bible plainly tells us, but even the apostle Paul said that when the church is operating in the gifts of the Spirit, it will draw those unbelievers to know the truth. Should we act like monkeys in the zoo? No, but we mustn't stifle the Spirit of God, either. How in today's world can we remain Pentecostal in our practice, yet outward-focused in our mission?

Many churches today are doing what they can to reach those who don't know the Lord. I applaud them for that. There are many programs and ideas to facilitate church growth. But at what expense do we change? We are a Pentecostal church. We have a conservative view of the Bible. We believe it is God-inspired. Some churches, not COG's, have gone so far to "reach" the unbelievers out there as to take a lower view of the Bible, to begin to question the things of God. While I don't believe we can have "all the answers", we have all the answers that God's Word gives us. In a culture that questions everything, I feel that it is high time we had some answers to give them.

The title of the blog entry today, "Missio-costal", is not to be take to seriously. The only label we Bible-believers should go by is Christian. But, I think that we need to get back to the basics. That is just what our early COG forefathers did. It is called the Great Commission. Preaching the Gospel to every creature is what Jesus commanded us to do. Church growth will happen as we seek to do the Lord's will for his church, the Body of Christ universal.

How do we do that? By being the Body of Christ in this world. We need to reach people where we see them every day. At work, at school, at the doctor's office. You get the picture. And sure, they will even come to our churches, and we should be ready for them. We will win them as we reach out to them were they are at. One of my favorite scriptures is in 1 Corinthians 9:

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some." (vs.20-22)

I should cap off this article today by saying that there are many churches in the COG that are reaching the harvest without sacrificing our experience. I am blessed to be part of one that is. Churches don't have to sacrifice one or the other. Too many today hear words like "emerging" and "missional" and immediately, the defenses go up. If we stick to the Biblical model, I don't think we will go wrong.

Well, that is it today, folks. God bless!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Want My Guitars!

Hey, all. Now that I am down here in Florida, I go through some bouts of homesickness every now and then. I miss my family. I miss my friends, and my church family back at Victorious Life. While I truly miss everyone, one thing this evening has me a bit down. That is my guitars. Three months ago, when we moved down here, several items had to be left behind because we ran out of room in the moving truck and our van. Included were my guitars. I don't have a working amp, so in my dreaming of playing again, I have simply dreamed of the amp I played at church up there, the Line 6 Spider 112. How I wish I had one of my own!

While I am playing the bass for the worship team that is going to the Bahamas next month, I really miss playing the regular 6-string. Tonight, I was on a message board frequented by other Church of God ministers and members, giving guitar advice to a guy who has only been playing for a couple years. In fact, there has been a lot of guitar talk on that sight, and it has only fired up that much more the desire to play my music for the Lord.

Really, that is what it comes down to. The Bible commands us to praise God and worship him in song and music. Just read what the 92nd Psalm says:

"It is good to give thanks to Jehovah, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to show forth Your loving-kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night; on the ten strings, and on the harp, with sounding music on the lyre." (vs. 1-3)

Sure, I can still play the bass and sing, but I really wish I had my guitars. The Fender I got back as a sophomore in high school, and the old Gibson Acoustic that my dad bought back in 1965. Both are still sitting in my house up north. I really need to get those down here!

I am getting tired of visiting Guitar center in my spare time just to play a guitar like the one at the top of this post. It is a Gibson Les Paul Vintage Mahogany. Simply the most beautiful electric I have played. That is my dream guitar. Actually, it is a pretty cheap dream as far as Les Paul's go. It's only $800, and the top of the line LP's can go for upwards of $2000!

Sorry to vent, but I just wanted to share my frustration with those of you who faithfully read what I write here.

God bless, my friends. Thanks for hearing me out tonight!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dollar Store Treasures

Well, the Easter Season is upon us. That means trips to the malls and stores of America are decorated to the hilt with colored eggs and bunnies. Kids will take part in Easter Egg hunts, gathering as many eggs and candy as possible. Hey, my kids did today!

Last night, my wife ran into the local Dollar Tree to get the stuff for our kid's Easter Baskets. She got the usual, like candy. But also things like little cheap toys and coloring books. To us, these are just cheap little time occupiers. Just a buck! But to them, they are treasures. Who thought a dollar store coloring book could provide such joy?

I kind of got a taste of that happiness myself this evening. After I cooked up some homemade beef stew, I realized we needed some bowls. So, off to the Dollar General I went. Once inside, I found the aisle with the cheap plastic bowls, and found something a bit more "treasure-able". I found a four pack of nice glasses, made of real glass, not plastic. They were only $3 (Dollar General isn't a true dollar store). But hey, for a decent glass, that's a steal. Who'd think I'd find happiness at a cheap store?

When I read the Gospels, and the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus, I read of a life that to those around him, seemed insignificant. Jesus was born to a poor family. He didn't have much in the way of earthly goods. He learned to work with his hands as a carpenter. In fact, Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus left the glory of heaven, to take on a human body. He became a bond servant. He humbled himself.

Jesus didn't come as a king in royal robes. Perhaps that is why the religious folks of the day had such a hard time believing that Jesus was the Messiah. He came in a package that the elite wouldn't recognize. Jesus didn't come as a spiritual "Saks Fifth Avenue", he came as a dollar store. I like what Isaiah says: "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2) No one would have looked at him and thought, "Hey, there goes the Messiah!" Yet, inside his plain-looking package is the most glorious treasure we can have. And he laid down his life on Calvary to take our sin on himself and became our substitute. He took our punishment, and gave us his life.

Don't get me wrong. Jesus is the Almighty God who rules the Heaven and the Earth. Just read the book of Revelation. He doesn't appear as a lowly peasant, he is the Reigning King, resurrected from the grave. It was his sacrifice on the cross, and his glorious raising from the dead 3 days later, that gives us the eternal life we can have. It was that humbling sacrifice of the peasant from Galilee that made me alive when I was dead in my sins.

Jesus came to give us life. Won't you trust him this Easter as your Savior?

God bless!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I've Been Busy!

Hey, all! It's been a while since I last posted anything. Sorry about that. I've been busy!

Don't let that photo of my son Timmy throwing a frisbee at Clearwater Beach fool you. Though we certainly did have fun (and Timmy can really throw that thing, even at 3 years old!), life hasn't been all beaches and waves. We've been keeping busy.

In addition to working all day, I have had the blessed opportunity of preaching in a local assisted-living home during our church's Sunday School hour for the past month. I absolutely love it! It had been months since I had last preached, and I had almost forgotten what it felt like. the folks there were blessed by my preaching, and I was blessed to be able to minister to them. Each week I look forward to seeing them and encouraging them from the Word of God.

Not only have I been overjoyed to preach to these good folks, but I have had the chance to hone my pulpit skills. And that is a good thing, because now we are possibly going to be pastoring a small church on the west end of town that our home church wants to plant. It will be a "satellite church", another church reaching another area of town. We are honored to be asked to head this up. In fact, a building is available, leased by a minister who attends the main church. It already has a sound system and a sanctuary! I took a tour of the facility this week. I am excited about what God is going to do there.

So, I have been one busy guy lately. God is on the move, opening up doors for us, and we are walking through them. I will keep you all updated on how things progress.

God bless!

Friday, March 09, 2007

No Regrets

When I got down here to Lakeland, one thing I was hoping to keep quiet for a while was the fact that I am a musician, playing both the guitar and bass. It worked for a while. But I accidentally let it slip one evening as I was talking with the Youth Pastor from our church. I'm now playing the bass for the youth/young adult praise band. I even was asked to fill in for the absent regular bass man in the main sanctuary, in front of nearly a thousand!

But, God so cool. Since I've been playing, I have been asked to go to the Bahamas for a big youth convention called Caribfest, as part of the music team, playing the bass guitar. I have never been on a missions trip, and I am so excited about it!

I have to admit, it will be weird being away from my wife and kids, even if only for a few days. I'll be in another country. Historically, these kinds of opportunities don't come my way. But this one has, and I feel that God is in it.

I know not everyone feels the same way. I talked with my dad tonight, and I was telling him about the opportunity to go. He wasn't too thrilled. Not that he thinks anything bad will happen. His response to going to there on a missions trip was, "Why not just go help rebuild a Katrina house in New Orleans if that is the kind of thing you into?", or something like that. To me, that is the kind of attitude that keeps people securely on the ground next to the mountain and viewing it from there, rather than strapping the climbing gear on and tackling the challenge. I'm not content to just go through life ignoring the God-given opportunities and "surviving". I don't want to survive, I want to thrive!

This gave me a little poke tonight that reminded me that a God-call is a sending call. God doesn't call us to just hold down the fort till Jesus comes back, but to be soldiers of Christ that advance on the powers of hell with the Gospel of Christ, seeing the captive sinner freed. He calls us to be faith-walkers. He calls us to be holy risk-takers, like Jonathan, Saul's son who defeated the Philistines with simply his armor-bearer at his side. His only thought? "Perhaps God will move!"

I am reminded of something Pastor Mark Batterson of NCC in Washington DC said: at the end of our lives, it won't be the things we did, but wish we hadn't done that we'll regret. It will be the things we felt called to do, but never did, that will haunt us. I don't want to get to the end of my life when it's too late and have any "what if's". This trip is one of those things that I know I would regret not doing till I die should I stay home for those few days.

So, don't let anything stop you from that thing you feel God is calling you to do. Let loose, and do it with all your heart, mind and soul!

God bless!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Beaches, Parking Lots, And Box Breaking

Since moving here to Florida, one of the simple pleasures my family and I have come to enjoy is an afternoon on the beach. The kids had never been to a real beach before, whether back home in Michigan on the Great Lakes, or an ocean beach. So, one thing I personally looked forward to upon our relocation down here was occasional beach trips. And there is such wonder in the eyes of kids who get to take in the greatness of the ocean. Even after seeing it a few times, they still get excited about heading to the Gulf of Mexico and splashing around the surf. Hey, I can’t blame them, I think it’s pretty cool myself, and I’m not new to the Gulf, having been here as a child on vacation, splashing in the same water I did some 20+ years before.

Well, Saturday was one of those special days that we took a family trip to Clearwater. And once we got parked and changed, we had a great time. The only downer was that I think we spent more time searching for a spot to park the van than we did actually hanging out on the beach! Man, if I learned anything from this trip, it was to be out of the house about sun-up so we don’t have to fight for a parking space. Everyone and the dog happened to be at that beach. Every lot we sawed was closed due to being full. And just when we saw the car ahead of us pulling into a lot, the parking attendants quickly put the sign back out saying that the lot was full again. Right in front of us! It was like being in a sit-com.

I have to admit, I was getting annoyed with all those parking attendants. Even when there were obviously open spaces in the lot they patrolled, they still wouldn’t let us in. They just waved us on. But tonight, as I thought more about the people working the lots, I realized something. These folks are regular people just like me. There isn’t really anything unusual about them. But they have something I don’t. They have the authority of the Clearwater Police backing them up. They have the authority to close off lots and wave us by. They are simply using the authority and power that has been entrusted to them.

We too as Christians have an authority backing us up. We’re just regular folks like those in the world that don’t know the Lord Jesus. By ourselves, we don’t have much to offer. But our power comes from who we have residing in our hearts. We have the Spirit of God Himself in us.

All day long, I have been reading and meditating on a portion of Scripture in the book of Ephesians. It is in the third chapter. Here it is from the NLT:

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.” (vs. 14-16)

The context behind these verses is that these non-Jewish Ephesian Christians had just as much of God’s favor as the Jewish Christians did. Many of the Jews back then, even those that had placed their faith in Jesus, felt that God looked down on non-Jewish people, who they called Gentiles. Yet, the Apostle Paul had been given the privilege to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and he was letting them in the city of Ephesus know that God doesn’t play favorites. He loves Jew and Gentile alike. And so because of that fact, he was telling them that the same resources that the Jewish believers had, and the apostles had, they too had. They had God’s unlimited resources backing them up.

I don’t know about you, but for me to think of God empowering me with heavenly resources via his Spirit, the possibilities suddenly seem endless. The roof has been blown off, so to speak. There is no limit to what God can and will do through us who love him. He is able to give us greater knowledge of Himself and His love, as the chapter continues to say. He is able to give us the strength we need to make a splash for him in this world. He wants to use us for things that we can’t even begin to imagine. I like what the 20th verse of Ephesians 3 says: “Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” On my most creative day, I can’t even scratch the surface of God’s power working through me. God is so much bigger than me and my little imagination.

Friends, imagine what God could do through us if we could only grab ahold of this truth. Be encouraged today to let God break out of the box that we all tend to put Him in. Avail yourselves of the unlimited resources in Christ!

God bless!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's A New Season!

Hey, folks! I decided to make some changes here at the blog. Gone is the MPSoundingboard, really, since MP means Michigan Preacher, and I am in Florida now. I decided on the title Itch's Desk because Jr. Itch is a screename of mine on a message board I post on. I just thought it worked good.

Anyway, things are going good here in Lakeland. I am working and assisting in the church however I can. God is blessing us!

Keep tuned in to Itch's Desk. The name may have changed, but that is about all!

God bless!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An Active Silence

A couple days ago, I had one of those days. The kind when the kids are screaming, running, and beating each other up, all while the baby is screaming and dinner is burning. You know, the kind of day that gives you flashbacks to that old Calgon commercial slogan, "Calgon, take me away!" Yup, that was where I was at. I had taken all I could. I had a migraine developing, and the kids didn't let up. Times like that, I wish I could have a life "pause" button, so I could just push it and get a few moments of respite. Unfortunately, life has no such button.

I like silence in times like that. But, there is another type of silence that I can't really say that I enjoy. It's God's silence. As much as he loves us, there are times that he remains silent. Those times when it seems that prayer is hitting the ceiling and bouncing back at you like a superball. Those times when the storms seem to be ever-increasing in their rage, yet the Lord is seemingly asleep in the stern of the boat.

David felt like that. In fact, he penned these words in the 22nd Psalm during his own time of silence that he endured: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" David had lived for many years as a fugitive on the run from King Saul. David hadn't committed any crime to warrant such treatment. He was the target of an extremely jealous, unstable king. Saul knew that David had been called by God to replace him on Israel's throne. And, he resented him for that. So, David was on the run most of the time.

I can see how those times can get to you. They can make you think and believe things that really aren't true. Those times, and I have experienced them, can cause us to feel that even God has abandoned us. We get angry with him. "Can't you see what I am going through, Lord!?" has escaped my lips more than a few times, I must admit.

This verse from the Psalms was also spoken out by Jesus, as he hung on the cross, beaten to a pulp, resembling raw hamburger on a stick. Having the sin of the world hung on him, as he hung there dying, he cried out to his Father in heaven, "Why have you forsaken me?"

Of Course, Jesus knew why he was there on that cross. Yet, even while dong God's will, it can get lonely, can't it?

That brings me to my main point today. I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' trip into Jericho. He healed a blind man on the trip in, but once in the city, the Bible doesn't mention any miracles. Crowds followed him, yet he didn't heal anybody. We don't read of any demons being cast out. No dead people being raised. It would almost seem a wasted trip if it weren't for one event that day in the city. The salvation of Zacchaeus.

Here was a man who was despised by the Jewish folks of the day. He was considered a traitor, working for the hated Romans as a tax collector. He would rip off the people and force them to give more money than they were supposed to. He got rich on the backs of his fellow Jews. Not the nicest guy on the block.

Yet, something in him must have sparked when he heard that Jesus was in town. Maybe he heard of the miracles. Perhaps word had reached his ears ahead of Jesus of the blind beggar healed just outside of town. Whatever got Zac's attention, he decided he wanted to see this Jesus for himself.

So, he climbed in a tree, seeing he was rather short, so he could catch a glimpse over the crowd. And as the Lord walked by, he looked up, called Zacchaeus out, and the rest is history. He got saved, and showed it by his actions of restitution to those he had so shamelessly fleeced.

What would appear to be a just a casual, ordinary stroll through the town square was anything but. The heavens were moved that day more than any dead person being raised or sick person being healed. Salvation came to someone, and nobody saw it. That's what can happen in the "silent" times, when God doesn't seem to be working on our behalf. If we could just step back and get the mind of Christ in our trying times, we would understand that "all things work together for good for them that love God, to the called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.

Friends, don't despise God's silence. If you truly love him, and seek him, he is with you. Keep your eyes on his Kingdom, and his Righteousness, and even when he doesn't let on that he is working, just know that he is. If God is for you, who then can be against you?

God bless!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Greetings From Florida!

Hey all! Just a quick hello from the bright sunlit Central Florida. This is now my new home. We have been here in Lakeland for a couple weeks now, and we are getting used to it. We love it here.

Anyway, I am without internet access at home right now, so, I am restricted on blogging for a while. I am using the college pastor's office PC to write this. I am going through writer's withdrawal! Anyway, be praying for us friends! God bless!