Friday, December 22, 2006

Bethlehem & Mary

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Micah 5:2

Our church musical this year got me thinking, of all the cities in the ancient world that God could have chosen as the birthplace of His Son, why would He choose Bethlehem? Bethlehem was more of a drive-by than a destination. Our church and college tour groups to Israel have visited Bethlehem and to this day it remains a second rate city.

God could have chosen Jerusalem, Mount Zion just five miles to the north. A city of kings and palaces, a city of priests and the Temple. God could have even chosen a city such as Rome, the most powerful city in the world. And yet, God chooses an out of the way, often forgotten hamlet, Bethlehem.

God chose Bethlehem often. In the lives of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the life of David, Israel’s greatest king. And as the birthplace of the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son.

What does this tell us about God? God, in His sovereign and perfect will, often times uses the least expected people, places, and things. Look at Mary. Mary was a young insignificant girl in the eyes of the world. There was nothing outwardly special about Mary. But when God called, she was willing. Our God isn’t looking for the best and brightest this world has to offer, He is searching for the willing, obedient, and available. Will He find these qualities in you this Christmas?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dreams

Have you ever been accused of being a dreamer? I have. I remember once in seminary an older minister told me that I was too idealistic and that I would be disillusioned and out of the ministry before I was thirty. Well thirty came and went awhile ago and here I am, still dreaming about what the church could be. And if you think about it, Christ said He would build His church, so with Christ as our builder we should dream big.

There is a dreamer in the Old Testament by the name of Joseph. In Genesis 37, young Joseph had a dream that God would make him great. As he shares his dreams with his family, they not only criticize and mock him, they can’t stand having him around anymore, so they sell Joseph into slavery. His life takes several more tragic turns and you would think the dream is dead. But despite the lies, the hardship, and prison time Joseph endures God still makes the dream a reality. When God gives a dream, no matter the present circumstances, the dream will come to pass.

There was another dreamer named Joseph this time in the New Testament. Joseph, the man God called to be Jesus’ step dad. In what seemed to be a bad and awkward situation God gave Joseph a dream. God let Joseph know that He up to something big. Mary’s pregnancy was a part of God’s plan to bring His Son, Jesus, into the world so that He could “save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Joseph was bold enough to believe in the dream. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but Joseph knew that when God gives a dream, He will take care of the details.
Do you have a dream from God? If so, hold on to the dream. He will bring it to pass. If not, talk with God and ask Him to plant a dream in your heart. A dream so big that it’s something only He could do.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Lights

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
John 8:12

I have noticed an increasing number of Christmas lights during my evening walks. It appears as though each night a few more homes turn on their Christmas lights. There also seems to me to be more decorations and lights up this year than in the past. Possibly it’s the mild weather we’ve had the past couple of weeks or perhaps there is a more positive festive feeling in the air this year.

Whatever the reason for the number of Christmas lights, one thing is for sure; the neighborhood is a lot brighter. What was a walk in the dark during the past several weeks is now a bright and joyful stroll. And even though the weather has turned brisk the bright Christmas lights bring a warmth to the neighborhood.

As the boys and I were stringing our Christmas lights over the bushes I thought of the verse above. The Creator who said, “Let there be light” came into our world and said, “I am the light.” Our world can be a very dark place. But Jesus came so that we don’t have to walk in darkness anymore. What was a very dark walk through life is now filled with the light of Christ.

Jesus not only said He was the light of the world, He challenges us in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” What a task! We represent the light of Christ to our dark world. To people who may never open a Bible or walk into a church this Christmas we may be the only reflection of Jesus they may ever see. When looking at the beautiful Christmas lights this year, remember, we are called to bring the light of Christ to our neighborhood and world.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanksgiving

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

I can’t wait for Thursday. I love Thanksgiving, the unpretentious holiday that is celebrated with family, food, and football. It is the most celebrated holiday in the United States. More people celebrate Thanksgiving than even Christmas. Personally, it’s my favorite holiday. I like that for a day out of the year we pause to give thanks to God for His goodness to us.

While it’s great that Americans take a day out of the year to be thankful, it seems as though as a culture we are becoming less thankful all of the time. You would think as the most blessed nation in the world every day would be thanksgiving. But it isn’t. We focus on what others have and we do not. We love to complain. We always want more.

As Christians we are commanded to be thankful. If anybody should be thankful it ought to be all of us who have received God’s abundant and eternal life. We can be thankful in all circumstances because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) God has us taken care of in this life and the life to come.

How can we as Christians be more thankful?
Minister to those who have less than we do.
Avoid grumbling and complaining.
Verbally express your thanksgiving through worship and prayer.
Live a joyful life.

I believe being thankful honors God and is a light of witness to our watching world. Live a life of thanksgiving this week and every week!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Melchizedek

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.
Hebrews 7:1, 2a

Money is an aspect of our lives that has a deep impact in almost every area of our lives. How we view and use money says a lot about who we are and what we value.

Giving money at church is an important part of the Christian life. Tithing is an act of worship. Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7 show that the principle of tithing (giving God 10% of your income) is a pre-Law principle of honoring God. God has used the tithe of His people throughout history to care for His house and build His kingdom.

In our personal lives of worship tithing allows us to honor God with more than words. Money is important to all of us. Giving our money to God shows how important our relationship with God is to us.

Tithing expresses our personal allegiance to God. We see this in Genesis 28. Here, God reveals himself to Jacob in a dream. In response, the patriarch vows, “the Lord shall be my God…and of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” For Jacob, the tithe became a natural expression of his decision to follow the God of His Fathers.

Tithing is also an expression of Thanksgiving. Tithing expresses overflowing gratitude towards God. It breaks free from guilt as the motivation for giving. Its ultimate focus is the condition of one’s heart toward God.

Let us search our heart and make a renewed commitment to God through our giving.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Motivational Speakers

I have always been fascinated by motivational speakers. I’m drawn to their positive messages. Now, I’m not talking about the new age nonsense you sometimes see on PBS. I’m talking about people who focus our attention on the positive side of life. I enjoy looking at life through the eyes of faith and hope.

Subsequently, I have always enjoyed ministers and ministries that have focused on positive faith-filled thinking. I love to watch and listen to a Robert Schuller or a Joel Osteen. There is something about their message that inspires my soul. And judging by the size of their congregations and TV audience there are many inspired by their message.

The reason positive messages are so attractive is because they are filled with faith. Faith that there is something greater, bigger, better in our future. And as we have been studying in Hebrews, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6a

When you study the Bible you will find the positive faith-filled messages that permeate the pages of Scripture. Paul in Philippians 4:8 commands us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 tells us to see ourselves as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. One of my favorite verses comes in the blessing pronounced in Deuteronomy 28:13, “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

The Word of God is clear…for those of us who love and follow God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength we can be full of hope and faith. Now that’s a positive message worth getting excited about!

The Secret Place

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1 (KJV)


Secret places in our lives are important because they make us into the people God has called us to be. What we become in the secret places follows us into our daily lives and allows us to live victorious spiritual lives in the fray of everyday hectic life.

The difficulty with the secret place is that you can’t make the experience happen. We all need to experience God in the secret place, so what can we do?

Position yourself. We can position ourselves to meet with God. Make sure you’re at church, worshipping, in the Word, spending time with God privately, meeting with your small group, etc.

Persevere. Persevere until meet with God. Take the time necessary. Don’t give up.

Live in it. You can’t stay in the secret place but you can take the experience with you. Live in the power and presence of God in every area, every day of your life.
Go after a secret place experience with God this week!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Biggies

Early in our adulthood we make the decisions that shape our lives. We take on tremendous responsibility not really knowing the full impact of our choices. We get married, have children, choose a career, etc. I remember early in my twenties I couldn’t wait to get married, have kids, and be a “real” pastor. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

As we mature, we realize that we need help with the “biggie” responsibilities of life. What we once thought we could handle with ease becomes overwhelming.
We call these responsibilities the “biggies” because they become the main callings in our life. We are called to our marriage. We are called to parenting. We are called to our work. The good news is that when God places a calling on our life He is there to help us. If we are yielded to God He will fully equip and anoint us for the callings of our life.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Attitude

Chuck Swindoll has said so well, “Attitude is more important than the facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or think or do.”

Did you ever notice how much God is interested in our mind and our thinking? Because He is our creator He knows how we are wired. Our mind sets the direction for our life. It is our mind and thoughts that help us live beyond our natural surroundings and circumstances and embrace a life of faith. In His Word we are challenged by God to have His mind or His way of thinking. God freely gives His wisdom to all who are willing to follow.

Here are some verses to use in renewing your mind and thinking this week.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)


Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature. Ephesians 4:23-24 (TLB)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2-3 (NKJV)


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Grandpa


Without faith it is impossible to please God…
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

September 10th is Grandparents Day. I never knew my Grandpa Merrill as a whole man. By the time my memories of my grandpa began he was in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. Even with his physical limitations he was a giant to me.

People tell me he was a strong man. He always did what he had to do for his family and faith. No task was too menial or difficult if it needed to be done. My grandpa was someone not defined by position or title but rather by a job well done. He raised and provided for his family and pursued his life calling of ministry during the Great Depression and World War II. He was part of what has been recently defined as the Greatest Generation.

The thing that remained consistent throughout his life in the good times and in the bad was his never-relenting faith. He always placed his faith in the One who was greater than he. God would provide when there was no food for the family. God would heal when no doctor was available. God would come through when planting a church with little or no resources. My grandpa knew God would lead and provide and it was up to him to listen and follow.

The man I remember as my grandpa wasn’t the strong young man others remembered. He was, however, a powerful man of faith believing God for strength during a difficult physical day. Believing God would always take care of his family even if he couldn’t anymore. My Grandpa never lost his faith in God and His Word. He searched the scriptures for the promises of God and he held on to those promises in faith until he saw his Savior face to face.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rest

Be still and rest in the Lord…
Psalm 37:7a (AMP)

This Labor Day weekend’s message is on the subject of rest from Hebrews chapter 4. I find it amusing how my children resist resting. Whether it be bedtime, naptime, or simply a moment in the day we want them to slow down and rest they fight it. Even when they are dead tired they stall as long as mom or dad will let them.

I remember those days as a kid of never wanting or thinking I needed a nap. Nowadays, I would jump at the opportunity to take an afternoon nap. My body would welcome the rest.

Rest is important. When we rest after a hard days work our body renews its energy to take on a new day. Simply put, good things happen when we rest and bad things happen when we don’t. Rest is so important that God commands it. He designed us to grow stronger through rest.

Read the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 and notice the 4th commandment about the Sabbath is the longest one. Remember, God designed us for rest, but not just physical rest but mental and spiritual rest as well. We must disconnect from our crazy busy world every now and then and connect with God and the things He has deemed as eternally important. If we don’t there are consequences for breaking God’s law. Failure to follow God’s Word will leave us “unrested” in every area of our life.
So, don’t be like a child fighting your needed rest. Take time today and this week to disconnect from the world, connect with God, and rest.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Fall



"Behold, I make all things new."
Revelation 21:5b

This week our boys went back to school. We had a great summer as a family and made some neat memories but there was so much more we wanted to do. The summer was full of activities but there was so much left undone waiting for next year. It seems like summer is never long enough. Now we are forced to settle into the routine of the fall season.

I have to admit I love the routine of the fall. I like the spontaneity of the summer but the fall is exciting because its newness. For those of us with kids it marks the beginning of a new era for our children. The new school year marks another step in their journey toward adulthood. You are amazed at how fast they grow and change, how much they are learning, and how time flies. Each fall your baby grows up a little bit more.

I like to think of the fall as a season of newness in my own life; a time to take the next step in my personal and spiritual development. I enjoy teaching in the college. The preparation for teaching each fall invigorates me. I will be taking a class at my old seminary this fall to increase my knowledge and keep my mind sharp. Leslie and I will be attending a retreat to grow closer to God and closer to each other. All of this, not to mention the great ministry and presence of the Lord I experience week in and out at Christian Life, will allow for a season of growth in my life.

With the fall fast approaching…what can you do to produce significant new spiritual growth in your life?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pay Attention

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Hebrews 2:1

How many times from our earliest years have we heard or used the phrase, “pay attention”? Perhaps as we get older the phrase changes to “get your head in the game” or “FOCUS!” This concept of paying attention is important. We need to pay attention in many areas of life like driving, working on a project, developing a relationship, or with our walk with the Lord. Paying attention helps keep us on track, not missing something vital, bringing us to victory.

In Hebrews chapter 1 we read about the excellence of Christ. He is the greatest revelation of God! Jesus is shown as our God, King, and Lord. Because of this we are entreated to “pay attention” to Jesus and His message.

We must pay attention so we don’t drift away. So many people are simply drifting through life not paying much attention to what is really important. Christ and His message will never change. He is the Rock of our Salvation. Pay attention… don’t just drift through life.

We must pay attention so we don’t suffer God’s discipline. There are consequences for not following Christ and His teaching. Pay attention… there is a cost when you don’t.

We must pay attention because of the greatness of salvation. Christ and His Way are simply the best! There is nothing better. Pay attention… don’t miss out on abundant life now and for eternity.

Are you paying attention?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Choose

Why do some Christians succeed spiritually, while others fail? I believe the answer is…because they choose to.

Real success in the Christian life comes down to our willingness and obedience to God and His Word. Do we want to succeed? If so, there are certain faith action steps we need to consistently take in our spiritual lives.

We live in an on-demand world. We want everything on demand, from our news, to our music, to our movies. In our spiritual lives, however, there are certain activities we need to engage in on a daily basis to succeed spiritually. These activities are described as "disciplines."

We don’t like the word “discipline” because today we are always looking for the easy way to do things.

We carry this attitude into our spiritual lives as well. We don't like to wait. Yet the Bible speaks of slowing down and letting our spiritual lives take root. It speaks of studying, denying, obeying . . . and disciplining ourselves. The very word "disciple" comes from the root word "discipline."

So I want to ask you today, this summer, how are you doing in your Christian life? Are you growing spiritually, or have you just been going through the motions? Can others look at your life and tell that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Bottom line…are you satisfied with your spiritual life?

If you want to grow spiritually and be successful as a follower of Jesus Christ let me assure you, you can. The choice is yours.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Busy?

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…
John 15:16

I realized something after returning from a couple of weeks in rural Iowa. We live fast-paced lives in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago! Everyone seems crazy busy with home, work, kids, life, etc. We are constantly on the go getting things done.

I’ve also noticed we don’t like to wait. We want instant gratification. Ours is a results oriented world. Too often we fall into the trap of being too busy, looking for instant gratification in our relationship with God. We want to discover a shortcut to getting closer to God.

The problem is there is no short cut. In fact, the opposite is true; there is no substitute for taking time in developing your relationship with God. Each spiritual discipline that deepens our walk with God takes time.

We need to slow down, dig in deep, and take the time necessary to connect with God. It’s worth our personal investment to see His lasting fruit in our lives.

Have you taken the time necessary? Are you close to God? Take this test. Ask yourself if the people closest to you would say that you have qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control active in your life? (Galatians 5:22, 23)

Don’t let the summer pass without drawing closer to God. Take the time you need this week to connect with God.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Anniversary

The carnival is moving in down the street at the Mount Prospect Plaza. That can only mean one thing. My wedding anniversary is coming up.

Twelve years ago when we were heading out of our wedding reception Leslie and I saw the carnival lights and we decided to take pictures of our wedding party on the Ferris Wheel. The whole carnival stopped to watch. It was quite the event. To this day it is one of our favorite wedding memories.

The Ferris Wheel that year was brand new. It was beautiful, clean, and fuchsia, which matched our wedding colors. It was perfect.

Each year at our anniversary Leslie and I make a pilgrimage to the Ferris Wheel. It’s now twelve years old. Not quite as beautiful and clean as it was. A few nicks and dents here and there. And the fuchsia is not quite as “in” as it was in the early 90’s.

No matter what is going on in our lives, good or bad, when Leslie and I step on that Ferris Wheel, a little older each year, we are taken back to our wedding and the lifelong commitment we made to each other. As we ride the Ferris wheel up to the sky, we sit close together, talk about the past year, express our desires for the new one, and reaffirm our love and commitment to each other. It is always a powerful moment of reconnection.

Perhaps there is something you can do this week to reconnect with God. Revisit a place you met with God, or a special book, or perhaps a passage of scripture, or a worship song. In a lifelong relationship connection is important. Find time to connect or reconnect with God this week.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Two Wheeler

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33


Ask yourself these questions. When was the last time you purposely took on a challenge? The last time you pushed yourself to do something new? Are you satisfied or would you like more? What’s your next goal in life?

This past week I began to teach Matthew how to ride a two-wheeler. It has been quite an undertaking. There have been flashes of triumph and moments of frustrations with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. After one particularly nasty fall Matthew announced that he wasn’t going to try anymore. He just wanted to go back to his Big Wheel. A few minutes later he was ready to try again. He’s not satisfied to ride his Big Wheel forever; he wants to go to the next level.

In the lives of our children there are well defined stages of development with a variety of challenges to conquer along the way. In adulthood the challenges and development seem less defined. This can be especially true in our spiritual lives. That is why it so important to challenge yourself with spiritual goals you can only accomplish with God’s help.
Spend time in the Bible reading the life stories of ordinary people who become champions because they followed God’s purpose for their lives. Spend time reading and claiming the promises in Scripture. Put into practice seeking God and His kingdom first. Spend time listening in your prayer time for the voice of God to lead you. Join a 40 Days of Community Group with other believers to encourage and be encouraged in our spiritual journeys. Look to God for your next challenge so that you can continue to develop into the person He has called you to be

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Messages

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27


I had to hide the answering machine, again. Its not because I don't like to hear my messages, it’s because Mark, my two year old, won't stop pressing the buttons. Apparently this pre-preschooler enjoys hearing the click, beeps and voices that come from the machine. However, those same noises to an adult, after a while, become quite annoying. Not to mention the countless messages I have probably missed over the last couple of months.The problem is that when I hide the answering machine I don't always remember to check my messages. When it’s not in plain site I forget to listen to sometimes very important messages that require my attention.As I thought of us having to hide our answering machine, I thought about my relationship with God. Many times I hide the answering machine. I know that God is always listening when I talk with Him but there are often times that I miss out on a message that He wants to share with me. Whether on purpose or simple forgetfulness I may miss out on something very important God is trying to communicate with me. I have to remember to check my messages when I get home. There maybe something important for me to listen to.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Red Hat Society

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12

I had a fun experience this past week; I was a part of a Red Hat Society get-together. In case you’re wondering, the Red Hat Society is a “social organization where there is fun after fifty for women of all walks of life.” There best known for their red hats, their red and purple outfits, and their incredibly lively get-togethers.

How did this happen, you ask? My son, Matthew, and I were traveling and stopped for lunch at a small town cafĂ© in Iowa. We and a couple of old farmers were the only ones there at first, other tables began to fill up with different couples, and then a trickle at a time the Red Hats came in. As the restaurant got crowded and the noise level grew the waitress came over and said, “Don’t let those Red Hats chase you boys out of here.” And I’m glad we stayed.

At first we began to talk with the nearby farmers about the weather, traffic, and such. Then the conversation soon progressed to other tables. As the lunchtime rolled on, the conversation flowed to the point of not knowing where one table ended and another began. People moved freely about, from place to place, picking up and joining in on conversations all around.

We all came in at different times, for different reasons, with different people, yet we were all together.

As enjoyed the fellowship of young and old, male and female, I thought of the church and what is meant by being a unit made up of many parts, all working together. The second mission of our church is to connect people to people. We will work at this mission with our upcoming spiritual emphasis campaign, 40 Days of Community. I’m looking forward to many different people coming together, working together, to do something great together!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

As A Child

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-4


Robert Fulghum, author of the classic, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, is asked to speak in a variety of different venues that range from classrooms to corporate headquarters. He has remarked about the vast difference between his audiences of children and audiences of adults. For instance, if he asked an audience of children if they liked to sing and dance, everyone would respond gleefully. If he went on to ask them if they would like to join him on stage to sing and dance, nearly everyone eagerly volunteers. In the corporate adult crowd if the same questions were asked, a few might respond that they enjoyed singing and dancing, however, you would be hard pressed to find a single volunteer to join him on stage.

What happened? Why the vast difference? I often wonder when and why these changes take place in our lives as we grow from children to adults.
Jesus taught again and again in the Gospels that we need to have childlike faith in order to connect with God. Our faith in God needs to be marked by characteristics like humility, dependence, trust, and wonder. As we watch our children perform this week, let us pray that each of us develops a renewed, unashamed, passionate, childlike faith in God.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Home

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:1-4

This past Sunday after church I stopped at an open house. It’s a beautiful home that I have admired for years and had just come on the market. Now I’m not looking to move, nor could I afford the increased payments this home would require, but I wanted to see what it was like on the inside. To be honest, I was secretly hoping I would be disappointed with size, floor plan, ascetics, or something about the home, but to my dismay, it was even more tremendous than I had imagined.

As I walked through the house I imagined my family and me living there. What would go where, who would get which rooms, where my study would be. My fantasy quickly came to an end when I remembered that commandment about not coveting, but the Lord also took that moment to remind me that there is no home on this earth that will be my forever home.

There will come a day after seeking God here on this earth I will be able to enjoy being with Him forever. I like the way one person summarized our hope of heaven. There we will be worship without distraction, service without exhaustion, fellowship without fear, learning without fatigue, and rest without boredom.
My forever home is with my Father in heaven. And I have no doubt that He who formed the galaxies could far out-design the styling of an English Tudor in Des Plaines.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Follow Me

Follow me.
Jesus, The Gospels


“’What would Jesus do?’ is the wrong question to ask,” said Thursday’s chapel speaker at the college. He went on, “The correct question is, ‘What is Jesus doing?’”

This thought has stuck with me…”What is Jesus doing?” It goes beyond the moral imperative of simply following Jesus’ actions to actively looking for Jesus at work today. While the former is good, the latter connects us with God’s work in the world.

The question, ‘What is Jesus doing?’ needs to be answered on two levels. The first is, ‘What is Jesus doing in me?’ It’s important for each of us to be aware of Christ’s work in our lives. The Bible says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) This means He’s working in our lives, doing something good! Take the time this week to look for what God is trying to teach, develop, and reveal in your life.

The second level is, ‘What is Jesus doing in the world?’ This allows us to see how we can fit into God’s work in the world today. Henry Blackaby, in the book Experiencing God, tells us we should find out where God is working and get in the middle of it. God is alive and well and at work in the world today. Open your eyes to see where God is at work in your home, church, workplace, school, community, etc. Take time to discover your part and get involved in His master plan .
So let me ask you, “What is Jesus doing?”

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Word

For the word of God is full of living power.
Hebrews 4:12a

The Bible is God’s Word. Because it’s God’s Word it is full of truth and power. When we listen to, read, meditate, speak, and obey the Word our lives are transformed by the power of God. Being immersed in the Word makes us prosperous and successful. Like it says in Joshua 1:8, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Spending time in God’s Word everyday will change your life! We need to spend quality quiet time in God’s Word everyday. This week take time to pray God’s Word. Because it’s His Word it is true and it will come to pass, so take the time to allow God’s Word to shape your thoughts and prayers.

Here are some examples for you to begin with, then dive into the Bible to find some passages of your own.

Psalm 46:1… God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Timothy 1:7… For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Philippians 4:19… And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Exodus 15:26… I am the LORD, who heals you.

James 1:5… If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

devoted

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

The New Testament church was birthed and sustained by God’s divine power. What was early church’s secret? How did they tap into that power to survive the harshest persecution, to flourish in immoral surroundings, and to share the good news throughout their ever expanding world? How could we as the church of today have this same power that turned the first century Roman world upside down? We serve the same God. He hasn’t changed. His amazing power is still available today. So how do we tap into that thriving power?

God designed His church to be His Body to the world until He comes again. His church, His Body, was designed to operate with specific principles. We discover these principles of the early church primarily in the Book of Acts. Our verse this week shares some of the important practices of the New Testament church. They were devoted to learning the Word. They enjoyed spending time together; including time spent sharing a meal. And probably the most important ingredient to their power, they prayed together.
Today at Christian Life Church we strive to be a powerful New Testament church in the world in which we live. We seek to see God’s Kingdom built at home and around the world. We long to see God’s power at work in peoples’ hearts and lives. I believe in order to see our desires come to pass we must once again devote ourselves to the practices that made the early church strong.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Following

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you”…So Abram left, as the LORD had told him.
Genesis 12:1, 4


I am challenged by the commitment level of the great men and women of the faith whether it be the biblical examples of people such as Abraham who left everything to follow God or the more modern example of missionaries who willingly give their life for the sake of the gospel.

Fifty years ago this month, five missionaries followed God to the jungles on Ecuador. In trying to share Jesus with a violent tribe they were speared to death on a sandy beach. Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCulley, and Pete Fleming gave their life for the Gospel, leaving behind their wives and young children. The movie, End of the Spear, in theaters now, tells the story of their tragic deaths and then goes on to show the amazing events that followed. Not only did their story make it back to the states and begin a revival among young people, some of the widows and children returned to this tribe to share the message of forgiveness to those who killed their husbands and fathers. Many in the tribe became Christians, including the murderers. Today, millions have been and are being impacted by their lives of radical faith.
God is looking for those who will follow him no matter the cost. Most of us will never be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice like these five young men. But we are all called to live a life of faith and obedience to God. With great faith comes an amazing relationship with God. Listen to God’s voice today. Take Him at His Word. Live a life of radical faith and watch what God will do!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Our Children


So the next generation will know, and all the generations to come - Know the truth and tell the stories, so your children can trust in God.
Psalm 78:6-7 (Msg)

I am amazed each day as I watch my boys. I am amazed by their life, their energy, their growth, and the latest discoveries they make on a daily basis. But what amazes me the most is that God trusts me with these three little lives and that God gave Leslie and me the calling to provide, teach, and lead these boys to become the men of God they are called to be.

God amazes me again when I see the children we have at Christian Life. It seems each week more are being added to our care. Whether brought by a parent, grandparent, friend, or picked up in the church van, we have the opportunity each week to connect children to God. And it goes far beyond that…

Today, around the world, children are being taught the Word of God, scores of kids in poverty are being fed worldwide, and street children are being rescued from a life of utter desperation. This is all being done by Christian Life missionaries around the world.

What an amazing God we serve that allows us the opportunity to influence so many little lives. We are impacting a generation of children in the Kingdom of God. It starts with our children at home and spreads to the ends of the earth!