Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I know it's been a while since I've written. It's been a busy couple of weeks with moving and Christmas. I haven't written anything really deeply spiritual, either, and today is no different. I am in the office for a little while just to do the Sunday bulletin, print and cut it, and go. I have to stop by the old house for a few things, and go back home. I'll finish up everything there tomorrow, and arrange to turn in the keys.

The kids had a great Christmas. Our family in Michigan sent money rather than gifts, so we could shop for them. My oldest girl got something she has wanted for some time now- an electric guitar like mine, and a small 9-volt battery operated amplifier. The guitar is a Squire Mini Strat, built by Fender, who made mine. My younger girl got a "Fur Real" toy cat that purrs, meows and moves. The boys got a Black & Dekker toy tool bench, among other things.

We had some good food, too. I cooked a turkey, a ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes. We had apple and pumpkin pie. And we ended the evening with "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian".

I hope you all had a good Christmas, too. Till next time, God bless!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is this cool or disturbing?

I don't know if this is cool or disturbing. Some guy in the Toronto area made himself an android girlfriend! The man is a software engineer, and he designed Aiko, in the picture above. She is quite lifelike, isn't she? He has equipped her body with sensors, including, ahem, the private areas. OK, that settles it with me. This falls into the "disturbed" category!

While this guy went crazy with the sensors, the technology is cool. It would be neat to have personal robot assistants running errands and cleaning the house, wouldn't it?

Until later, friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caught in His Arms

This has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for us. It all started last Tuesday afternoon. Upon my return home to the house we rent, I found a huge eviction notice stuck to the front door. We were planning on leaving to move closer to the church, but I was unprepared for what I saw on that notice. It said we had 24 hours to get our stuff cleaned out of the house! I hadn't seen any notice, or gotten anything in the mail, yet we had a day to move. Talk about pressure!

A torrent of emotions washed over me. I experienced everything from fear to saddness to laughter. Mostly fear and saddness. I spent what seemed like hours on the phone with the Sheriff's office, the courts, and our pastor. We had a sleepless night or preparations for a sudden move, and the next morning I drove to Bartow to the circuit court to file an emergency stay of eviction. It was an unnerving day, to say the least. I eventually got the good news that the bank now owning the house gave us through the end of the month to find another home. That news alone brought me to tears of joy. All the torment of the past 24 hours finally let off. To say I was pleased would be a gross understatement.

To compound the matter, I had to deal with our minvan that was being serviced. It's fixed now, but then I had to spend my time looking for a new home. Well, that day has arrived. I got word yesterday that we were approved for a rental in Lakeland, and can start moving in Dec. 19th. We are excited!

But, what this whole ordeal has reminded of is that, though life may drop me, Jesus is always there to catch me. The whole time that I panicked and worried and cried, he was there. His hand was with me even when He seemed a million miles away. Those around told me that. My wife told me that. Somewhere deep down, I'm sure I heard the Lord Himself tell me that. But fear gripped me, and that was all I seemed to be able to process. But praise the Lord, He took me through that fire!

I didn't have a scripture in mind when I started blogging this, but now I do. Check out what Isaiah said-

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

God's people somehow and someway must have been dealing with a situation they felt they could not escape. I don't know the circumstances, but I love God's answer. No matter what the trial, no matter what the problem, if God is for us, who can be against us? What circumstance is bigger that Him?

I'm glad on this side of the trial to have gone through it. I'm thankful that God used a bad situation and walked us through it. I don't ever want to experience that again, but I learned how faithful God really is thorugh this. I think that was what Paul the Apostle was getting at when he said to "give thanks in all circumstances". And the Lord has shown us again and again that he is with us. I've been blessed with a new home. God has provided for us financially just this week in ways I never expected.

I don't know who this is for today. It certainly isn't my best writing. Maybe it was just for me, but if you are blessed by this reminder today, pass it on to someone else.

God bless!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Televised Suicide?

I can't believe it, but it has happened. Over in Switzerland, on an assisted-suicide advocacy show, an American, who had been living in the UK, committed suicide. He apparently had some disease like Lou Gherrig's, or another motor neuron disease. It's a sick thing that we live in a time that we glorify such things on national TV. It probably won't be long before that stuff starts getting done on our own networks here in America.

While I find doing the deed on TV for all to see rather disturbing, what saddens me even more is the how this man viewed himself. Just read what he had to say before he died:

"You can watch only so much of yourself drain away before you look at what is left and say 'This is an empty shell,''' he said. "Once I become completely paralyzed then I am nothing more than a living tomb that takes in nutrients through a tube in the stomach - it's painful."

I understand the feeling that he useless. I feel down if I just have the flu and can't get out of bed. But I'm deeply troubled when I read this, because I know that God had a plan for this man, even in a paralyzed state. He viewed himself as nothing more than an empty shell. I wonder how this must make God feel. God can use anyone, he can do anything. He could have used this man.

When I read the Bible, I read lots of promises. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11-

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

This was written during a time that these Jews may have felt "paralyzed". They had been taken away captive to Babylon, far away from the Temple, far from their homeland. They desired to be back home, yet they would spend the next 70 years enduring the judgment for their sins. Yet, in the face of all that, God sent them a letter through the prophet Jeremiah, who was still back in Jerusalem. He told them to carry on with their lives. He told them to build houses, and plant gardens. He told them to multiply. He wanted them to keep getting married and having kids. He wanted them to be fruitful in their circumstances. And that is when God told them that He indeed had good plans for His people. They had a future, and they had a hope, even right there in a seemingly hopeless situation.

This man who killed himself on TV didn't realize this stuff. It didn't connect that even in spite of his crippling disease, God could have used him. For him, it's too late. He is gone, but I know of at least one man who was touched by his story. I have been challenged personally to live my life daily as to the Lord, who has wonderful plans for me that I can't even fathom in my mind. When I look at where God has brought me, I'm humbled. But when I think of what He still has waiting in the wings, it boggles me. One of my favorite scriptures goes like this:

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9

I can't even begin to imagine what God has for me down the road. Neither can you. So let this story remind you that life is worth living, no matter what. God's plans for you are good, and He wants to pour out His good blessings and plans on you.

God bless!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Growning Pains

Come on now. You know you watched it. You ladies, especially you ladies in you late 20's to early 30's watched it just to swoon over Kirk Cameron (I don't know why!). I'm talking about Growing Pains. It was a good show that dealt with family life with kids coming of age. They all made their share of mistakes, they had their downfalls and problems, they had their good times, too. I have to admit, I kind of liked that show, though it would be hard to get me to admit it in a crowd of friends.

But, with me learning how to run the office and the finances at this church, it seems to fit. I'll be the first to admit I've made a couple mistakes. Nothing too bad, but embarrassing. One of my responsibilities is putting together the monthly newsletter. It's a big job, but one I'm somewhat qualified to do, as I love to write. It requires editing and sometimes re-wording what ministry heads write for their spot. But, even with a couple set of eyes on it, stuff gets by. And this month, my first month doing it, some stuff got by, including the accidental exclusion of the Men's Ministry. Suffice it to say, I got a little red-faced over that one!

It's all part of learning, isn't it? I'll get it down soon enough, I know. But even the Lord's Apostles had some growing pains. I'm in the good company of people like Peter, who after a powerful revelation of who Christ is, rebuked Him for announcing that He was to die a horrid death on Calvary. "Get behind Me, Satan!" Ouch, that one had to hurt! Then there was James and John, the "Sons of Thunder". Jesus gave them that nickname personally. When they witnessed the Samaritans reject the Lord, they became indignant. They must've thought of Elijah on Mount Carmel, because they asked Jesus, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" I wish I could have seen the look on Jesus' face that day. He rebuked them, he didn't come to destroy people. He came to give life.

Then there was Thomas. He gets a bad rap from us Bible readers today. After the Lord had risen, He appeared to the disciples, and the were amazed. But Thomas wasn't there. When the others told him about what had happened, all he said was, "Unless I touch His scars and put my hand in His side, I won't believe it!" When Jesus came some days later, He looked for Thomas, and said these words:

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29

Yet, I don't see where Jesus cast any away or got fed up with them. He was patient with them. He knew what they would do one day, and He taught them through those times of mistakes and issues. He does the same with us today. I praise Him for that.

That wasn't too deep, but I pray it blesses someone. Whatever you are going through, let the Lord show you His way, and you will come out all the better.

God Bless!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Check out that picture. That is a panoramic view shot at Yosemite National Park. Here is the fact that boggles my mind-it was shot with a 17-gigapixel camera! Click here to go to the website, where you can see the zoom-able picture in such amazing detail and depth that you can see people on the mountain in the picture's center. The detail is so mind-boggling that you can see what color clothes those people are wearing!

I did a little research, and I found out what a gigapixel is. I have a 5 megapixel camera at home. 1 megapixel is 1,000,000 pixels. 1 gigapixel is 1 billion pixels, so that means a 17-gigapixel camera is 17 billion pixels! I can't even imagine how these are made! How do you place the hardware? And how do you come up with something so detailed that you can see what color pants someone is wearing that is miles and miles away? If mere man can come up with this stuff, it absolutely floors me to think of how big God is!

I get great comfort from some passages in the Bible that speak of just how great God is. One of them is Isaiah 40-

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?...Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Imagine that! The hollow of the hand was just a cupped hand. God is so big, he can fit all the earth's water in his hand! The span of the hand was the distance between a man's thumb and pinky finger. God simply put his hand up and said, "The universe is this big"! Isaiah went on to say that the each nation on this planet is a drop in the bucket, and is like dust on the scales. How many of us go to the deli to get our ham or cheese, and first ask the person helping us to wipe the dust off the scale so we don't get overcharged? C'mon, for real, who would do that? That little bit of dust doesn't even register! That is how the nations are to God!

In Psalm 147:4, the psalmist said this:

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

That doesn't sound too big if the only stars you know are seen in NYC. Even on a clear night away from light pollution, the stars aren't innumerable. But that's just with the naked eye. God created more than just those stars we can see, after all. And scientists estimate that the number of stars is 10 to the 24th power. That is a 1 with 24 zeros after it! I can't fathom a number that big. Yet, God knows each and every star. But the real shock for me is that that passage says that God gave names to each one! Billions and billions of stars, and God knows each stars name! I have a hard enough time with the names of my 4 kids! "Machaela, stop that!" "I'm not Machaela, I'm Timmy!" In theological terms, this is called God's transcendance. Simply put, it speaks of how huge God really is. It speaks of how far above His creation He is. It transcends human understanding.

But God also in these passages speaks of his immanence. This speaks to the fact that God is inside his creation. Now, that doesn't mean that God is everything, as Hindus believe. It means that God is with us. Sure, He's big enough to create this vast universe, but cares enough about us that He gets right in the middle of our lives! That alone surpasses my mind. God is interested in me! It reminds me of another psalm-

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?(Psalm 8:3,4)

Wow, this God who is so far above us cares enough for us to get right in the middle of our lives. He climbs into your problems, you cares, your worries. I'm reminded of what Jesus did at the tomb of Lazarus. That's when he commanded the stone to be moved on a 4-days dead guy. It stank, but Jesus isn't afraid to go where it stinks. He raised up Lazarus, and showed us the unmatched power he has. And he'll get into your stink, and he'll work his miracles for you!

So, the next time you look at the night sky, imagine just how big God is. But remember that He wants to fit Himself into your life! The God who made everything loves you. Simply amazing to me!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, it's finally here. Thanksgiving Day! I got up about 7:30, got the turkey in the oven at about 8, and we had everything finished and eaten by 3:30. Dinner, anyway. That photo is one I took just before devouring the feast.

That picture also shows some good things that I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for my family. Of course, there's one more kid, my youngest, who refused to be in the picture. I'm thankful for my wife, too, but if I post her picture that I took today, she'll kill me! These people that God has put in my life bless me every day. Sure there are days that I want to pull my hair out for dealing with the shinanigans, but I really am blessed. It makes me think of all the good things God does for me.

I am in good health today. I have a roof over my head and transportation. There is food in my fridge (especially today's leftovers!). I'm no where near rich, but God is providing all I need. My family and I are blessed and prospering! I thank the Lord for his many blessings.

The Bible speaks much on being thankful. There were certain sacrifices in the Old Testament Law that were Thanksgiving Offerings. After times of victory and blessing, God's people would offer up thanksgiving for what the Lord had done. David displayed a thankful heart in 2 Samuel 7. Check it out:

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?

David had been on the throne for a while at that point. God had given him victory and blessed him tremendously. So, one day, David probably just walked around and looked at how God had blessed him. He decided that he wanted to bless God. He wanted to build the Lord a temple, so the Ark wouldn't have to stay in a tent. The prophet Nathan affirmed David's desire, but then God stopped him, and told him that David was not to build a temple. His son would. Then that is where God decided to reveal just how he would bless David. David wasn't to build God a house, but God would build David a house-he would always have a decendant on the throne!

David probably struggled to find the words to express his thanks to God for his blessing. I know I would. All he could say was, "Who am I?" Just like that Casting Crowns song that asks, "Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, would care to know my name...?"David was humbled in God's exaltation of him! (That will humble you when you realize how God has lifted you up!)

David must have flashed back to his early days in the sheepfold. Night and day, he'd watch over his dad's sheep, unnoticed by people, but seen by the Lord. When his own dad wrote him off as unimportant, God chose him. He was everything a king wasn't supposed to be. He was the youngest son. He was just a kid. He was a dirty shepherd. He probably wasn't 90 pounds soaking wet. But God took him from the sheepfold to throne.

Yeah, David had a lot to be thankful for. So do we! Think of what God has done for you. Just this afternoon, I picked up the latest CD from Casting Crowns, The Altar and the Door. As one song played, called "Slow Fade", I thought about the pits God has pulled me from, starting with salvation, to the times I wandered like a sheep and got stuck in the ditches of sin. Immediately, I began to tear up as I thought about how good the Lord Jesus has been to me. He pulled me from my sins, filled me with his Spirit, gave me my family, and called me into the ministry of the Gospel!

So, what do you have to be thankful for today?

God bless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Apple Pie and Soft Pretzels

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I'm enjoying cooking. I just finished the crumb top apple pie, and my wife is starting to make the potato salad. Then she'll cook the sweet potato pie, and prepare the cornbread stuffing. Then I'll get up at about 5 or 6, get the turkey in the oven, and kick back with a hot pot of coffee.

I decided to experiment with flour and yeast. I am waiting for some dough to rise, and I'm going to make a batch of soft pretzels. I'll let you know if it comes out good.

Well, I'll try to post something tomorrow with more substance. God bless!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Out!

It's Thanksgiving week. That means it's one busy week! At the church things are really hopping, with the church newsletter deadline quickly approaching. Then there's edits in the membership logs, due by month's end. I still have to print off and cut the weekly bulletin for Sunday, get some much needed filing done, and make one more bank run. Add to this the fact that the office is running on a skeleton crew (me and another guy!), I'm doubling as the receptionist, and the week ends for us Wednesday, I'm running crazy.

How many of you can relate? I thought I was busy working a full time job and being a part-time youth pastor. Now that I'm a full-time associate pastor at a big church, I'm running from sunup to sundown. While I'm grateful that God opened a door to do this ministry, I'm ever grateful for a chance to slow down and get some quiet time!

Spiritually, we need this. I'm not just talking to pastors, I'm talking to moms and dads, employers and employees, to anybody with a pulse and a life. We get our lives and our schedules so full that we have no choice but to run nonstop till we either collapse from sheer exhaustion, or get sick and have to rest. In fact, we find that there are some our our Biblical heros of the faith that had to take time to get alone and pray, spending time with God undistracted. Just flip through your Bible, check out the story of Moses. 2 Million people sure know how to drain a guy. He spent weeks at a time in God's presence. I think of David, who needed to get alone with the Lord after he found the town of Ziklag had been pillaged and burned, and his and his men's families kidnapped. While his small militia panicked and even spoke of stoning David, he got alone with God and "encouraged himself in the Lord".

But I don't think we could have any greater example than that of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. I am just trying to put myself in his place, and it boggles my mind! Here was a man who had multitudes chasing after him constantly, all needing something from him. He had to deal with some rather hard-headed disciples every day. Then there were the Pharisees and Saducees that constantly grilled him looking down their noses at him. And this is all added on top of the knowledge that he was there on the planet with the purpose of dying the most brutal, tortureous deaths known. Can anybody say "stress"?

No wonder we read occasionally where Jesus had to sneak off to get some alone time with his Father. He needed a time out! While Jesus was fully God, let's remember that he was also fully human, and he dealt with human emotions and frustrations just like the next guy. Surely, with the issues he had hanging over his head, the Lord can understand the impending deadline on that make-or-break project at work. Certainly Jesus understands the bills that need paying, the kids that need doctors, the soccer games that need playing, the sermons need preaching. Add cooking dinner to that (maybe it's a pizza after a day like I've had!). Check out this verse in Hebrews 2...I pray that it gives you as much comfort as it does me.

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.(vs. 17)

I like that. That passage tells me that Jesus isn't my halfway high priest. He isn't even my 2/3 of the way high priest. I'd be happy if that was all he gave us! But that passage says that he had to be made like his brethren! He came to this corrupt planet, put on skin like us, and he faced life like the rest of us-and he came out on top! And because of Jesus, we can too! Hebrews says elsewhere that human priests understood what other people went through. They are all human. Guess what? Jesus is human, too, and he also knows what a rough ride being human can be! Only Jesus can do something about it. He gives us his Spirit, that he happened to call our helper!

So, whatever you're passing through now, let me encourage you to do the one thing that will give you the strength to make it-get alone with the Lord and let him touch you like only he can! Take a time out!

God bless!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Friday

No, I don't have my calender confused. I had a pretty good Friday today. I made it in the office about 8 to do some work on the church newsletter, and print off and cut the Sunday bulletin. I did some accounting, then I was off to lunch.

That's where it got fun. I met up with a couple of my internet buddies for the first time. It was good to have some fellowship with Neil Smith, and Brandon Bowers. We were joined by another pastor from Winter Haven who is preparing to go to Kenya next week for 20 days. We had great conversation. I was blessed to spend so time with them.

Now I'm back at the office, working some more on the newsletter, since I finished up the bulletin. Now I just want to get home and spend some time relaxing with my family. I'll try to post something devotional this weekend. It will be our first Sunday back at Abundant Life since I've joined the staff. I'm looking forward to this season in our life and ministry. And I get to play guitar on worship team! I'm stoked!

Have a good Friday, too.

God bless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Wednesday Back

Tonight is our first Wednesday back at Abundant Life. I was officially released from Kissimmee on Monday, so now we are all set in Lakeland. It's good to be back, this time doing ministry full time!

Today was a fun day, though. It started out at 5 AM like any other normal day. I fought the sleep to get up, made up the kid's lunches, got showered and dressed, and had some Frosted Mini-Wheats. After fixing up my hair, I went out into the living room, and that is when my younger girl, Gabbie, left a barf trail from the kitchen to the couch. Eeew. The poor thing had been feeling a bit sickly, and this was the wonderful culmination of it. After mopping it and having her get her PJs back on, we all climbed in the van. School was out for her, so she laid on a mat with her pillow, and drew pictures. She began to turn around, and I'm happy to report that at about 4:30, she seems all better.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my broken down van. I found out that I qualify for an auto loan. I applied online last night, and today got a call from Suzuki of Orlando about a loan. I don't know the rate yet, but I was told I qualify for a new car loan. We'll see. My credit is shot due to the foreclosure in Michigan. Man, they'll give anyone a loan these days.

Anyway, I'm pumped to be back in Lakeland. I have my guitar with me and ready for practice. I'll be jamming tonight with my old bandmates I played music with months and months ago before going to Kissimmee.

I thank God, and Pastor John for the many blessings I got in Kissimmee. I miss them already. I pray that God pours his favor out on that great church. If you read this, John, I'm praying. Oh, and I cut my long hair off. You'll see when I get back there to visit you all.

God bless!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fitting In

A couple of months back, I took on the task of giving my minivan a much needed tune-up. New plugs, new wires, and a new ignition coil pack. What a job! It wasn't fun, all because I made a pretty serious mistake. After putting on a new coil, I had to put on the new spark plug wires. This is a very important job, because the wires need to be on in the proper firing order. After I put on the wires, patting myself on the back for a job well done, I fired up the engine. That is when it all broke loose!

It started rough. I figured it just for bugs in the system that would be corrected by the onboard computer. That's when the check engine light not only came on, but actually started flashing at me! I'm not even joking! Then, the engine sputtered out and died. I would be understating it to say I was freaking out. After trying several other combinations on the coil posts, I gave up out of frustration. I went to bed, and the next morning, I decided to use the old, numbered wires. All ended well.

Just like those wires, we try to find a place to serve, and oftentimes we end up doing more damage than good because we just weren't made for that call. Nothing like the wrong person to misfire a ministry! It happens in the secular world, too. How many good people took a job they just couldn't handle, even thinking they would learn the job, only to fall on their face and cause more trouble than good? I've done this in ministry, and gave myself a real headache of a time. Thank the Lord that my experiences only frustrated me, and didn't do any real damage. There have been other times I've tried to fit into spots God never intended to put me, but I'll stop there.

In my read in 2 Samuel, I got to the sixth chapter, and came across a familiar, yet shocking account. It's the story of a guy named Uzza. Here was this man, gladly serving the Lord and his king, David. The Ark of God had been away from its place for some years, first with the Philistines who captured it, then in a couple Israelite homes. Finally, David decided that it was time to bring the Ark back to its rightful place. It was a big deal. It was a time of celebration. It was a time of worship and high praise. But it turned sour real quick.

David had his men placed the Ark on a cart-mistake number one. Moses had given very detailed info on how the Ark was to be transported. That was on stakes threaded through loopholes on the side of it, and carried on the shoulders of the priests. David did what the Philistines had done years before, that is, place the Ark on a cart and tow it with animals.

As they marched on to the resting spot of the Ark, something bad happened (always happens like that, eh?). The oxen that were pulling the cart got a bit too rough, and they shook the Ark so that it wobbled and started to fall. That is when Uzza committed mistake number two. He reach out and grabbed a hold of the Ark to steady it and keep it from falling. At the time it surely seemed like the right thing to do. After all, we can't let the one thing that God used to represent His Presence fall and get all dirty, right? Too bad for Uzza that God didn't agree. He struck poor Uzza dead right there. Why? Was it really that bad of a sin to "help" God out? Uzza's problem is that he didn't stay in his place. Like Saul before him, who took for himself the duties of a priest and sacrificed, handling the Ark wasn't Uzza's job. Only the priests could deal with the Ark, and even they probably couldn't touch it with their hands. The trouble that day could have been avoided if everyone had just followed God's plan. But, when we step out of line and try to do what God hasn't called us to do, we cause problems. Actually, the best thing that Uzza could have done would have been to let the Ark fall on the ground-it was the only thing doing what it was supposed to! It was being the ground, just what God made it to be.

Uzza's actions didn't just affect him. Perhaps a family lost a daddy and a husband that day. David probably lost a good man. David himself did things wrong, and his decision that day cost a good man. Lesson learned for the king: do it God's way. The next time David tried to bring back the Ark, he did right. The priests carried it the way God said, and everyone was happy.

Am I saying that God will strike you down if you try to do something He hasn't called you to? Most likely not. God is patient, and in this age of grace, he will show you where you belong. But, while God judged with severity in Old Testament times, serving where you belong is still just as important nowadays. I can't tell you how much trouble, turmoil and heartache can be caused by the wrong man in the wrong spot.

So, if you are seeking out the will of God, and searching for that spot He has for you, keep praying. Keep working, and He will place you where he needs you.

God bless!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Chapter

Today officially ended a chapter in our family's life. Today was our last day as the youth pastors at Living Waters in Kissimmee. Though I started officially in the office at Abundant Life last week, I now am about to dive in headlong, 100%. I am serving as an associate pastor, and handling the financial things, running Quickbooks, doing payroll and membership things. I'm also handling the monthly newsletter and weekly bulletins.

We still have to sit down and work out pastoral duties, but I'll be doing some outreach, and do I ever have ideas!

Life is full of "new chapters". The Bible gives us several examples of people who had a call from God, and had to walk away from something to fulfill it. I take comfort it that, because it can be a stressful time when you leave something familiar to venture into territory that you've never been to. I think of people like Abraham leaving the familiar and following after God to Canaan. I think of Jacob, after 20 years of serving his uncle, took his family and left when God said it was time. Then there was Elisha, whom Elijah found plowing in his dad's field with 12 oxen. Elijah tossed his cloak on him, and Elisha immediately knew what was happening. He killed the oxen, and cooked them up. He had a feast with his family eating the animals he'd work with. Why? He wanted nothing to go back to.

But my favorite "new chapter" story isn't found in the Old Testament, it's right there in the Gospels. Jesus, though he is God's son, grew up with Joseph as his guardian and step dad. He learned Joseph's trade, carpentry, and that was he did until he about 30. Then one day, Jesus knew that it was time. He went out to where his cousin, John the Baptist was. He was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Jesus walked into the water, and asked John to baptize him. John, knowing that he was the Messiah, objected to baptizing him, but Jesus said it was necessary. So John dunked him.

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Sinners got baptized. Gentiles wishing to convert to Judaism got baptized. But Jesus? He had no sin to repent of. Maybe he was identifying with his people. But I want to focus on another idea. I think he was partly marking a new chapter in his life. He had been the carpenter. He made tables and chairs. Maybe he built houses and fixed them up. But those hands that once would make new furniture would soon make blind eyes see. Those hands would heal the lame. They would raise the dead. And, ultimately, those hands would be pierced on an old, rugged cross to make sinful humans new!

The Jordan marked it off. Significant life changes are "Jordan moments". We have those times when what we are used to, what's familiar to us has to move out, so we can go on to what lies next in God's plans for us. Mine now is crossing the line between Osceola and Polk counties, as I move on from Kissimmee to Lakeland.

Yeah, these times can be fearful. But, when we look at that great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) from the Bible, it's more comforting to read their stories and know that if they made it, so will I. So press on to the Jordan, friends. Don't be afraid to face that new territory. God is with you!

God bless!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Listen to Your Heart (NOT!)

I think every Christian at some point can identify with what I about to say. I have been in the school of hard knocks several times. That is a school I think I've flunked out of before. Shame on me. But let me tell you a story of a lesson I got loud and clear from my time in that wonderful institution.

Many of us, unless we were born to Bill Gates or some other uber-rich person, know about tough financial messes. I'm no exception. I've been in some tight situations in my day. Some have turned out good, others haven't. Let me talk about the latter.

It's real tempting to stop tithing when in difficult situations. To think of that money going to pay for that bill, or whatever, is tough to overcome when desperate. To my shame, I've let myself do it, though. And I found something out. It doesn't bode well to do so. I've allowed it happen, and seen things simply fall apart financially because I decided that God wasn't big enough to help me out. I decided that I had to come up with solutions all by myself. You'd think I would have learned when my ideas and plans came crashing down around me. Yet, I'd let the pattern continue. Finally, out of desperation, I'd cry out to God, repent and do it His way.

The same holds true for every area of obedience in life. God calls us to obey Him. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is replete with commands to obey the Lord: "If you obey the commandments of the Lord..."; "We must obey God rather than man...", and so on. Sadly, the Bible is also full of examples of those who walked in disobedience. I have a sad one in mind that I just read about in my trip through 1 Samuel. this comes from the 27th chapter:

"Then David said in his heart, 'Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.'"

David is called by God "a man after my own heart". God's own testimony is that David has God's heart. He loved God. He was the sweet psalmist of Israel. He would sing, dance and worship God with his whole heart. Yet, like the rest of us sinful humans, he allowed fear to creep in and it spoiled him. He walked out of God's will that day when he ventured into Philistine country. He took his problems into his own hand, and decided that God wasn't big enough to take care of him. God, who so far had a perfect record of protecting David from Saul was now being replaced by a mere human, ungodly king. (Imagine how God felt!) And so David left the land of promise, and sought refuge in the land of idols.

David was in Philistine territory for more than a year. And what a dark year of life it must have been for him. Out of fellowship with God, cut off from his fellow Jews, it must have been miserable. And beyond that, David lived life as robber and marauder. He would pillage the towns and cities of Israel's enemies, killing everyone, and stripping the bodies of anything valuable. And, to make matters worse, he'd lie to the king of the Philistines about it, saying he'd pillaged his fellow Israelites, making himself look better to the king. With no people left alive to tattle him out, he was free to keep us his murderous ways.

David's life was an out-of-control downward spiral for that year and four months. Finally, when he had sown the seeds of destruction, it all came back and bit him. While he was out pillaging, he himself got pillaged. He was living with his family and his 600 men (and their families) in the walled city of Ziklag. The Amalekites showed up when all the men were gone, kidnapped their wives and children, robbed them blind and burned the city. When David and his posse returned, they saw the city destroyed and everyone gone. They were understandably shaken and distraught. They even thought to kill David for the mess he brought everyone into. Sin has a way of doing that. You think that you are affecting only yourself, but you burn others, like spouses, kids and parents. Perhaps David learned a valuable lesson-as you sow, so shall you reap.

It took a major hit to finally get through to him, but it did the trick. David ran to God. He cried out to him. The Bible doesn't say what went on in his heart, but I'm sure he did some repenting. Then he asked God for help, and God heard him. He chased after the bandits that got them, and God allowed him to recover everything unhurt.

When we don't do things God's way, there is a price to be paid. I don't care what it is. You may be holding back the tithe, or you may be cheating on your spouse. Be sure your sin will find you out. God will allow you to reach a point that you are at the end of yourself, so that you can find Him. The good news is that you are never too far from God's hand. The Bible says in Isaiah 59:1 that God's hand is not too short to save. But you have to be willing to turn from your sin and trust him again.

I learned that lesson on tithing. I have found that God is faithful to those who obey him. Times haven't always been easy, and I've experienced some loss. But I've had the peace of God in my spirit that told me everything was going to be alright! Hallelujah!

Won't you trust the Lord today with your situation? It's time to walk in obedience, and see what God will do.

God bless!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long, boring day

It's been a long, boring day. Our receptionist is out sick, so I've had to be the receptionist today. I answered the phone the few times it rang, and did some writing that the job requires. I'm glad it does, since it keeps my writing juices flowing.

Got to hang a bit with some of the other preachers on staff, the 2 that were here. It's been a very quiet day. I spent a good amount of time talking to Fred, and enjoying his stories. Fred is our church custodian, and he is such an awesome guy. He'll bend over backwards for you. Such a cool guy with a powerful testimony. I may share it someday.

Well, the day is finally over for me. I get to go home. Friday is technically a day off, but I'll be in to work on the Sunday Bulletin for a while. Casual day for me!

God bless!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Coffee

Today I went to kill some time at Starbucks with a cup of their Thanksgiving Blend and some time reading the Bible. I walked in, ordered the coffee and pulled out my wallet to pay when the barista stopped me. Since the coffee had not yet been brewed, today's cup was on the house! Praise God! The only thing better than a hot cup of Starbucks is a free hot cup of Starbucks! I sat down and waited for the coffee, and started reading in 1 Samuel 25. More that that later. My coffee was hand-delivered to me in the corner I chose, and I thought about God's goodness and favor.

A couple days ago, my landlord stopped by to pick up the rent. I told him that we were going to have to move back to Lakeland, as I am now on the job at Abundant Life Church here. Since we are going to have to break our lease early, he technically can't give us our security deposit back. But I do believe that God's favor shined on us, because he is letting us stay next month for free! When I pay, I pay for that month, so I paid for Novemeber. That means I have the rest of this month to save, and all of December. That will give us 2 months rent, or our first month in a new house, plus the security deposit. Praise God!

God is good to his people, in the big things like shelter and food, and even in the little things like a free cup of Starbucks. Check out what the Word says in Psalm 84:11:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Who would have thought I'd find the blessing of God in a cup of Starbucks?

God bless!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saying Goodbye is Tough

Well, for the past eight or nine months, I’ve been serving on staff at Living Waters Church of God. I hired in as the Outreach Pastor, but after a couple of months I was reassigned to Youth Pastor. So, for the past six months, I’ve been serving there, and seen God move and really touch these kids. We’ve seen our share of struggles and even a bit of ugly attacks, but God has blessed us.

Then, out of the blue, something happened. I got offered a full time position in Lakeland, where I’ll serve as an associate pastor and office administrator. I start in the office tomorrow, and be there officially for Sundays on the 23rd or this month. I’m excited about what God is doing!

But that means someone inevitably will be saddened by the news. Indeed, some are. It was announced last Sunday that we are leaving the church. I was almost immediately confronted by a sad teen. My wife talked to a couple teens before service that saw the announcement in the bulletin. So it makes the whole thing kind of bittersweet.

On the one hand, I have poured myself into these kids, often not knowing if I was really making a difference. I saw signs from time to time, like kids reaching out to visiting teens, and telling them about our youth services. But, it didn’t really hit me that I was important until I saw the sadness in them. It reminds me of when Paul called for the elders of the Ephesian church for the last time. Check it out:

“And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again...And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:25;37-38

The Bible goes on to say that the when Paul finished his address to the elders, that they wept, mostly because they would never see his face again this side of heaven. I wonder if Paul may have felt what I am. I wonder if he really realized that he had really made a difference.

Nearly two years ago, the pastor of the church in Lakeland was pastoring in Ypsilanti, MI. He announced on a Sunday morning that he was resigning and moving to Lakeland, FL. The church was crushed. They loved this pastor. The state overseer came that night to take a vote for the new pastor, and while there, he said these words that have stayed with me. He was glad to see that the church was sad, because it meant they loved the man who was leaving. That is why I am somewhat glad that the church and the teens are sad, because it means they love me. It means I did some good while I was there. I don’t want them to dwell on me, but at least I know I been effective. It would be bad if they decided to party because they finally got rid of me!

Well, tomorrow begins a new chapter for me. Pray for me as I step out into the will of the Lord!

God bless!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Men As Trees...

Special thanks to my pastor for bringing this thought back to my mind!

I see them all over the place around my area. On street corners, shopping center driveways, or exit ramps, hardly a day passes without seeing a homeless person. They may be hoping for just a little food, a little cash, even work. And, even for a Spirit-filled Christian, it's really easy to just let these people fade into the scenery of the city. We make excuses, we ignore them, or we blame them for their own problems. But one thing I can't get past is that these are not faceless beings, but real people, created in the image of God. These are people for whom Christ died.

This morning, as my pastor preached about bringing in the harvest, he mentioned a curious passage in Mark chapter 8, in which Jesus actually laid hands on a blind guy two times. Check it out:

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking."
Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Mark 8:22-25

When Jesus did this miracle, he may not have had in mind the homeless. Perhaps he was making a deeper spiritual point. But I think the what the Lord did illustrates what my point today is. Too many who have felt the hand of the Lord need another touch by him. We look around and see the homeless, the hurting, and we walk away. They become faceless entities that fade into the landscape. We see them, but we can't see them for who they are-real people that the Lord died for.

You know, Jesus said that when the end has come, and he is doling out rewards to his people, he will first separate the sheep and the goats. The sheep he blesses because of their care for those in need, and the goats he rebukes and condemns for their lack of concern. I don't want to find myself standing before the Lord Jesus at the end and find out just how calloused I was. I want to do everything I can to bless the Lord be blessing them now.

Let's look for those opportunities to be the Lord's hand in these precious peoples lives. I'm not talking about money, but simply helping those who need it.

God bless!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It Is Finished!

It's been a long one. Up at 5 AM, worked till noon, and I spent the afternoon preparing the last minute stuff for our annual Hallelujah Nite Halloween outreach. We got to the church around 5 and the event got off the ground about 7:30.

Overall, it went good. Our kids in the church loved it, and a few visitors came from the area to see us. We didn't get the turnout of last year, maybe because we didn't really factor in the 8 PM curfew for trick-or-treaters.

I, for one, am glad that it is over! I am gonna get some sleep, and tomorrow we are heading to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa for my son Timmy's birthday treat. He loves to watch those fish.

God bless and good night!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Late night

It's been a late one, folks. I'm pooped. We had a long business meeting at the church tonight covering everything from the building program to the church name. That last item was the most controversial of the evening, but it's all good.

After church, I had to run into Wally World for some Lunchables for the kids, as well as hair stuff for my wife. Of course, like any Super Wal-Mart, they were packed. I needed a Pepsi just to stay alert enough for the drive home.

I just had a quick late dinner of steamed broccoli and a baked potato with a couple slices of cheese. Not the tastiest, but enough to tide me over till breakfast.

Don't you love it when bloggers ramble on for no real reason?

Look for a post in the next day or so about some more nuggets found in my search through the book of 1 Samuel. I have a couple things that hit me between the eyes that I will be sharing soon. It will either be about momma cows or Ebenezer (no, not Scrooge!).

By the way, just in case you thought God has no sense of humor, think again. In 1 Sam. 5, when the Philistines had the Ark of God, the Bible says God afflicted them with tumors. Did you know that Hebrew word for tumors can also be translated "hemorrhoids"? No joke! I just saw the definition in the Strong's Concordance. God plagued them with hemorrhoids!

I needed a good laugh before bed.

God bless, and good night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Think about the following words if you will. Fire and ice…black and white…wet and dry…dirty and clean. What do these words all have in common? Of course, they are all opposites. Well, usually, that is what each of my girls’ rooms is like. Gabbie, my six-going-on-seven-year-old, keeps her room nearly spotless. Every toy is in place, the toy boxes aren’t overflowing on the floor, and he bed is (somewhat) made. Not too bad for someone her age. She’s kind of a neat-freak when it comes to her bedroom. But, she has a big sister who isn’t as interested in a clean room as she is. That would be Machaela. She’s nine, and getting more “teenish” that ever. It is always a fight to get her to clean her room up, usually with my wife or myself standing over her making her clean. I could walk into both rooms right now and most certainly it would be a night and day difference. What a contrast!

The Bible offers up a good number of contrasts, too. I think of Cain’s murderous heart set against the righteousness of his brothers Abel and Seth. What about godly character of Abraham versus the compromised heart of his nephew Lot? Then there’s David and Saul. The Bible gives us lots of people from which we can easily see what seems like very deliberate contrasting of people in its pages.

One example I began re-reading this morning is a comparing and contrasting of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phineas, against the very young but godly Samuel. Samuel’s mom, Hannah, after having had her miracle baby, when he was old enough, gave him back to the Lord, literally! She took the small boy to Shiloh, and gave him to the high priest, Eli. Samuel began to serve God there at the Tabernacle, and God started blessing him.

Interesting thing is that as I read in chapters 2 and 3, I see that contrast clear as my old Dell monitor. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD..” (1 Sam. 2:12). The didn’t know the Lord? First, let me off on a rabbit trail for a second. What kind of people would want to be priests to God, yet not have a relationship with Him? (Some things just make you go “hmmmm?”) Yet, that is just what these two guys did. The Word goes on to say of these priests, “Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord , for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” (vs. 17)

I like the comparison the writer pulls out next. He then shines the light on Samuel, and shows us a picture of a godly boy faithfully serving his God. As I read through this story, what hits me is that Samuel, even as a boy, had a tenderness of heart that would bode well for us. He didn’t allow the corruption he most certainly witnessed in Eli’s sons penetrate his own heart. There was a true purity to Samuel. I’m reminded of something Jesus told us:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt. 5:8)

Back then, Israel watched the corruption of its leaders, and the sin they led the whole nation into. As a result, God judged Eli’s house, and the people of Israel. Even the Ark of God had been taken. God’s glory had left. Yet, Samuel continued to serve the Lord. Just like that small, impressionable boy, we need to press on in our relationship with the Lord, despite how those around us live. We may see people live for themselves, soaking in their hedonistic lifestyles, but we must guard our hearts. We must keep serving the Lord, keep praying, keep hiding the Word of God in our hearts. The battle is great, the temptations are real.

Though Samuel is a great picture to point to for one sold out to the Lord, we in New Testament times have a distinct advantage that Old Testament saints didn’t have…we have the power of God’s Holy Spirit living inside us. We have the one who not only gives us the desire to live righteously, but actually works in us to accomplish it. (See Philippians 2:12-13). So, when we see those around us failing, we can rest assured that God hasn’t called us this far to leave us to fend for ourselves. He commands holiness in the face of the world around us, but helps us live it out in the flesh. Praise God for His amazing grace!

God bless!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hallelujah Night

Tonight was a busy night. As a youth pastor and an associate pastor, I have certain responsibilities in my portfolio. One of those is organizing the church's annual Halloween outreach, called Hallelujah Night. It's designed to bring trick-or-treaters in off the street with candy, games, hot dogs and soda. I am told that last year 300 kids showed up. I'm looking for around that.

But, with a week left in prep time, it was time to hand out fliers. I took 2 of my youth members, Chris and Chris, and we hit the subdivisions surrounding the church. We handed out a couple hundred before the darkening skies forced us back to the church.

It's great to get my teens out actually doing something. They had some fun, too.

Remember to pray for this event. We need God's help to pull this off!

God bless!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Than I Know...

I love to write. That is naturally why in today’s computer age, I have a blog. I admit, I don’t keep up with it like I used to when I sat in a cubicle all day. Family, work and ministry keep me away more than I’d like. What I used to do daily (sometimes more like hourly!) I get around to monthly. But the desire to write hasn’t waned, I am happy to report.

Unfortunately, it seems the content has. I have been dealing with writer’s block some. That’s when I read a post on a blog I enjoy, called Evotional, by Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in DC. Mark wrote of the experiences he’s been having as a writer. He’s now got 3 books published, and he is amazed at how God is using his pen around the world to touch people he’d never even dreamed possible to reach.

That got me thinking about my own (very) limited experience with this very thing. From time to time, it seems some things I write strike people and minister to them. It’s not like I got an idea, had a scenario in mind and a target audience. I simply wrote what was on my heart, and God did the rest. The reader happened upon my blog, read the post, and God touched them.

Like the time I received an email from a guy who read a devotion I’d written on God’s activity in us during those “silent times”, when he seems a million miles away. He said that God had told him that he would be entering into a period of what would seem like heavenly silence, but assuring him that He was at work in his heart. He went into that time confident that God was with him, even though he couldn’t sense it.

Then there was the time that a lady I’d talked with on a Christian message board in Tennessee had printed off one of my blog entries to give to a young Christian she knew who was struggling with her newfound faith.

Moments like these get me mad when I am dealing with writer’s block. Really, the reason is that I know there are souls out there who need a touch from God, and I want to be available for Him to use. I want to be that arrow He pulls from His quiver that Isaiah wrote of in the 49th chapter of his book.

I’m so glad I navigated over to Pastor Mark’s blog yesterday. It lit a fire under me, both to burn through writer’s block, and to use my gift to reach people. If you blog, don’t ever get discouraged that you aren’t reaching people. There are people out there, even if they don’t respond (something I wish I got more of, personally!), that are blessed by what you are saying. So, don’t lose heart. God is using you!

Resurrection Time

No, I don't mean the upcoming resurrection of those who have died in the Lord. I have decided to bring back what worked for me. Seems I couldn't get any readers at Wordpress, so back to Itch's Desk it is!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Under the Fig Tree

I enjoy traveling. There is something invigorating about leaving the familiar and venturing into unknown. I have gotten the chance to do some traveling in my lifetime so far. From Sandusky, OH, to Dallas, TX, to San Diego and Anaheim, CA to Mexico, both the east and west sides of Canada and the Bahamas. I've traveled a lot, mostly on family vacations and trips between Florida and Michigan. I have been able to see some cool landmarks, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Niagara Falls in Ontario. I even got to view Seattle from high atop the Space Needle, and hiked around Mt. Rainier with my dad. I have been fortunate enough to see some neat places around the country, and even a few foreign countries. Those represented some fun times for me. One was even a spiritual blessing on a mission trip in the Bahamas. I've also let my feet tread in places I had no business going, like bars, clubs and even adult-oriented places.

But, my travels haven't simply been of a physical nature. Sadly, I have allowed my mind, my thoughts, and even my beliefs to wander into areas that I had no business going. I have allowed my thoughts to bring me to places that were harmful, areas of thinking where I not only let my guard down spiritually, but practically handed the devil a foothold in my life. Things like meditation, hypnosis, new age spiritism. And, I am ashamed to admit it, but I have allowed my mind, thoughts, and even my actions to drift into more perverse areas like pornography and sexual immorality. Suffice it to say, I've been around the block a few times in my nearly 33 years on this planet.

There is in John's Gospel a passage of scripture that is very sobering to me. Check this out: Jesus is gathering up his followers, and he has really impressed Philip. Philip then found his good friend Nathanael and told him about Jesus of Nazareth. After a bit of apprehension stemming from where Jesus was from, he met the Lord. Let's pick up the passage there:

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!' Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.'"

You see, we all know that Jesus wasn't just another joe on the street trying to make a living. He wasn't another average guy like me. He was divine. He was a human being, but he was all God, too. And, something he said to Nathanael here in this chapter shocked and shook him. Not only did Jesus read Nathanael's mail when he called him on his character (which Jesus himself said was good, solid character), he backed up that knowledge when he claimed to have seen him sitting under a tree. Jesus was not there when Philip went calling him. He didn't see where Nathanael was physically. Jesus saw because he is the Lord of Heaven and earth, the one who sees all and knows all. Hence, Nathanael's reaction to him. Not only did he know his actual location, he knew his heart. He didn't just know his physical locale, he knew his heart's locale.

In the field I work in right now, lawn care, some of my company's competitors have put a hidden set of eyes in the trucks. In order to keep track of their technicians, some have put both GPS and video cameras on board. So, now the employee has to watch what he does, and do an honest day's work, because he is being watched. If he decides to blow off work and just drive around, he'll be caught. If he just sits and sleeps in his truck, he'll get caught. There is always an eye watching. So much for picking your nose in private!

In the same way, we have an all-seeing eye watching us at all times. God is always watching. And, not only does he see where our feet carry us physically, he sees where our thoughts carry us. He sees what goes on in our mind. Just listen to David in Psalm 139.

"O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all." vs. 1-4

There is no escaping it. You can run, but you can't hide. You have been tagged by Heaven's GPS. Call it God's Positioning System. Call it Glory's Placement Satellite. God is watching you. Every step, every place, every thought. A heavenly TIVO is recording your life, inside and out. Spooky, kind of. I mean, those things we do in the dark of night, in the secret place of our minds, God sees.

Hey, but let's remember that this works both ways. It's real easy to talk about God's all-seeing eye and all-knowing mind when it comes to the bad stuff we do. But look at Nathanael's case. Look at what Jesus said to him. "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" I like that word, deceit. The Greek word used is dolos. It means a trick, or even decoy. Jesus was reading Nathanael's character and soundly proclaimed that this was the real deal. There was no fakeness here. In my work at fancy golf course subdivisions, I often see decorative decoy ducks floating in the ponds. They have been known to trick me, they were so life-like. But there was no tricking Jesus-Nathanael was the real thing.

You know, sometimes we mess up. We fall down. But, Jesus knows our hearts. He knows how we long to please him. He knows that at times, in this flesh we have to live in, we fall off the horse occasionally. Proverbs 24:16a says, "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again". I fell at work the other day and rolled my ankle. It's a pretty good sprain. But I got back up. When we fall, the Lord expects us to get up and keep going. When we jump up and pursue after the Lord, we are demonstrating that we long for the Lord to touch us, to purify us.

Yes, the Lord is watching us. He most certainly has seen every aspect of our lives, and yet he loves us. He has seen the movie of our lives, and he still pursues us. His people with him and loving him are the "joy set before him", as Hebrews says. So, look up. Press on, because you have a Savior in Heaven who is cheering you on!

God bless!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Have you ever been lost? I mean, drive around, get mad, pound the wheel, afraid of the neighborhood lost? That feeling of lostness (is that even a word?) where all sense of direction has fled? It is the most unnerving feeling. I have experienced that feeling before, myself, while driving from Ann Arbor, MI to Milwaukee, WI. While making the trip, we had just gotten to Kalamazoo, MI, when my daughter announced that she needed a potty break. Since we had just passed up the last rest area for a while, I thought that I had better get off I-94 at the next exit and find a McDonald’s.

Once I got off the expressway, I soon realized that I was on unfamiliar turf. I think I was in Kalamazoo one other time as a small kid, having taken an Amtrak ride with my Dad and brother there. I was in a new area, and it looked none too safe! We found the McDonald’s, and my little girl got her potty break. That was when all the fun began. The road I had gotten off the interstate at was one-way. I had no clue how to get back to it. I saw no signs, and simply went in circles driving around a rough area like Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Vacation. It was one of the most frustrating times I have

Well, that isn’t the only time I have ever been lost like that. While I am certain that there are lots more times that I was lost physically, there have been times that as a follower of Christ I have felt that sense of being lost and directionless. It is spiritually a very unsettling feeling. I felt that I was groping and grasping for some sense of direction from the Lord, or confirmation that I was on the right track. Heck, I would have been happy to hear from the Lord that I was all wrong, just as long as I knew I had heard from him! So, during those times, I simply did what I could, helping out the ministry where needed, and making myself available to the Lord, and to those over me in the Lord, like my pastor and leaders.

One thing I am sure glad for is that fact that God never gets lost. He never needs directions; he never needs confirmation or encouragement. God sees and knows all. That means he sees where we are at, even when it seems like nowhere. I like what the Lord Jesus told us in Revelation 22:13- "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." I like that. The cool thing is, the terms Alpha and Omega are actually the first and last letters and the Greek alphabet. What that tells me is that even when I don’t know where I am, or where I am going, Jesus is the end, and as such, he knows where I am going. He sees the big picture, while I only see what is right in front of me.

That reminds me of the life of Joseph, the 11th son of the Patriarch Jacob. Here was a young man who was highly favored by his father. His brothers knew it, and they hated him for it. While they worked the field, Joseph stayed home with Dad and often got sent out to check up on the others while they worked. And to top it off, Jacob gave Joseph something that he had not given his other sons. He gave the young man a bright, shiny coat of many colors. It must have been something to look at, because it didn’t get him in any better with the siblings.

Joseph’s story continues when he began having dreams. And these dreams weren’t because he had too many figs before bed. God began showing Joseph that he would one day rule over his family. Remember, in that Jewish culture, the oldest son became the head of the clan. So, for a younger man to have such dreams seemed to spit in his older brother’s faces. They finally got sick of little brother, and did something about it. They sold him down the river, and he went to the auction block in Egypt. They then took his precious coat and tore it, covering it in animal blood from the flock, and told Daddy that he was dead. What great people, eh?

I am sure that Joseph felt some of what I sense while in those “lost times”. (Or maybe I am feeling a bit of what he felt.) He must have found himself wondering where God was as he worked as a slave, and later in prison after being falsely accused of rape. The Bible doesn’t say, but I wonder if Joseph maybe, even in the depths of his heart, doubted, wondered, or feared? Did he ever once sit back and ask, “God, are you there?!” I know I have.

The good news for Joseph was that God indeed was there. He was for Joseph the Alpha and Omega, just as he is now for us. He was with him in that prison as he just kept on being the good, righteous, and trustworthy man he was. And God honored him in his own time. We know that Joseph was eventually released from prison, and immediately promoted from prisoner to Prime Minister in one day. And when his brothers were forced to Egypt years later for food during a famine, they met Joseph. They didn’t find him bitter. He wasn’t angry or even a little bit miffed. He was able to see on the other side of his “lostness” that God was there all along, and used the years of uncertainty as preparation. In fact, Joseph comforted his brothers when he assured them that what they meant for evil, God used for good, to save them in their time of need.

That makes me happy, friends! For years, I felt as though I was adrift on the sea of confusion, just trying to make my way through it. When I seemed to be totally perplexed and confounded, it was hard to understand that an Unseen Hand was guiding my path. Now, I am just starting to see that every step I had taken during those times was directed by the Lord. When I could not see him, he could see me, and knew just where he was leading me. Just see what the Word of God has to say about this:

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way.” (Psalms 37:23)

So, friends, if this describes you right now, please be encouraged that God is with you, guiding and leading you and molding you into the person he has called you to be. Even when he seems a million miles away, just know that he is right there with you. Remember that he has plans for you that you cannot even fathom right now. Be blessed as I leave you with a final scripture that I used in last night’s blog.

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Stretched

I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. From time to time, I get an urging to work out, and usually when I get going, I hit the ground running. I keep it up for a couple of weeks, then, the hate part of the equation comes in to play. Not that I hated the process, but it is so much easier to do other things than it is to work out. I end up choosing the path of least resistance (literally!).

But, I am not opening up with this to talk about exercise per se, but to talk about what we need to do beforehand to prepare for the impact our bodies are about to take. That is, stretching. Yup, stretching-that painful, annoying activity that serves to make us more limber and cut down on the chances of injury. It is very important whenever we are about to engage in exercise that we properly stretch ourselves.

Did you know that the physical realm isn’t the only arena in which we need a good stretching? God makes sure that we who are following Him get all the stretching we need in a spiritual sense. He has so many amazing plans for each of us. One of my favorite verses of Scripture is 1 Cor. 2:9-“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Yet, we can never realize those things he has prepared for us unless we are willing to put up with the discomfort of stretching into areas we are uncomfortable in or unfamiliar with. That is what I like to call “getting out of the comfort zone”.

I am reminded of something the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

When I read this passage, the verse that really stands out to me is the third verse. Paul came to this city in fear and trembling. Why was he so scared? Maybe it had to do with the fact that the people of Greek culture were known as extremely wise and learned people. Whatever the reason, it scared the pants off him. But God used this to stretch Paul, and he had a powerful ministry in that city.

Lately, God has been stretching me, as well. February 3rd marked a new chapter in mine and my family’s life. A door opened up to work as an associate pastor of outreach in a church in the Greater Orlando area. Now, nearly a month later, I am experiencing the stretching of the Lord. He is putting me into work that I haven’t had tons of experience in. I have of course worked in ministry outreach over the years, but not to the degree that I am now. I am the one coming up with ideas and plans on creatively reaching the lost of Orlando, and while I love the work, it is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. And, to be honest, it is a bit unnerving. There are worries about doing good work with lasting fruit. But like Paul, I am pressing on in spite of the fears. I too know that I will see God’s blessings on my labor as I reach the harvest for my Lord and my church.

Keep me in your prayers, friends, as I continue to follow the Lord. I most definitely need them!

God bless!