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03.01.2017 - Put
Recently the Holy Spirit gave me a clear message that I am very excited to share with you today. I had been praying for several days "Lord, please stir up your Word in my spirit" and He answered my prayer! I have never been great at memorizing scripture but knew that I needed to be meditating on His Word more than I was.

I began reading Philippians 4 and was surprised at how many quotable verses there are in this one chapter. If you are looking for a chapter in the Bible to read, check out Philippians 4. Let me show you what I mean. I think these may sound familiar to you.

v.4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

v.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

v.8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

v.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

v.13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

v.19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

That's a power packed chapter!

As I was reading verse 8 and meditating on the list of things that we are instructed to think on, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that this was a list that I should memorize. I repeated it over and over again; whatsoever is true, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. As I memorized the list and felt a sense of accomplishment, I also knew that I now had a tool I could use; a barometer with which to measure the quality of my thought-life. That's very cool.

Then He nudged me again. The Holy Spirit showed me that there were other lists in the Bible that I should memorize. The first that came to mind was the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17 tells us to "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Wow! This is another list.

Then I thought about the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Whoa! Another list.

I re-read these "lists" over and over again and repeated them in my head until I memorized all 3; the Armor of God, the things we should think on, and the fruit of the Spirit.

It was as if the Holy Spirit was waiting for me to be obedient in each step before He would reveal something new. Once I had the lists memorized and was repeating them in my head all day long, He began to show me the significance of these lists and how they are related.

He showed me that we are to "PUT ON" the Armor of God. We are to "PUT IN" good thoughts, and we are to "PUT OUT" the fruit of His Spirit. WOW!!!

As I was reciting these lists and meditating on their meaning, I found myself with both hands in the air pulling my hands downward to the floor to represent the putting on of the armor. Then with both hands extended I pulled my hands toward me representing the putting in of good thoughts, and with both hands pushing outward to represent the putting out of the fruit of the Spirit. The Lord had already showed me that the armor was for protection and the good thoughts were for peace and I was expectantly waiting for the third "P". The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "You are going to like this one" and showed me that, with my hands extended outward, that my hands were in parallel with each other. Producing the fruit of His Spirit puts us in PARALLEL (perfect alignment) with Him!!!

We PUT ON the Armor of God for PROTECTION, we PUT IN good thoughts for PEACE, and we PRODUCE the fruit of His Spirit to be in PARALLEL with Him.

I hope you are as excited about this revelation as I am. This has consumed me for the last few days, so much so, that I just had to write about it. Thank you God for sharing this with us!

Hearing from the Lord and repeating these lists found in God's Word has energized me. He gave us His Word to stand on. He answered my prayer and stirred up His Word in my spirit and He wants to do the same for you.

I believe that every Christian should memorize scripture. My challenge for you today is to memorize these 3 lists. Allow them to be a reminder of what you should put on, put in, and put out.

I pray that this Word from the Lord will bless you as much as it has blessed me!

Have a great day!

05.09.2016 - Composure
Recently the Holy Spirit spoke the word "Composure" into my spirit and I feel led to write about it today.

A quick google search reveals that composure is defined as "the state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself" and it follows that self-control is one of its synonyms along with calm, balance, and others.

When I think of composure I think of grace under fire; a situaion where one might be expected to lose control or succumb to a fleshly temptation and react in an ungodly way but instead acts in a supernatural way being led by the Holy Spirit. We know that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit as Galatians 5:22,23 tell us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I believe that when the Holy Spirit lives in us and we are faced with situations where the world expects a particular reaction but we respond with composure, self-control, grace, and mercy that this pleases God.

Many years ago, I remember driving a 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am. It was black with side pipes and very fast. Think Smokey and the Bandit. It was my first muscle car and I was very proud of it. Back in the day, it was cool to add an equalizer to your stereo to tweak the sound of every song to 1980's perfection. It also added more flashing lights to the experience. This was long before touch screens. So, needless to say, the TA had one proudly mounted in the dash for the world to see. That turned out to be a double-edged sword. One fall day with the windows down I parked at the public library and went inside to check out a book. When I returned to the car I could see through the open window the multi-colored wires hanging from the dash where my equalizer used to be. What came out of my mouth, to this day, still surprises me. I said "Lord please forgive them, for they know not what they do". That thought still brings tears to my eyes. It was as if I wasn't there and the Holy Spirit took over. That was composure. That was the Holy Spirit speaking through me with compassion and mercy for someone else regardless of the situation. I realized even then that this was an example of how the Holy Spirit expects us to respond with mercy and self-control. The equalizer was a thing, just like so many other things. So what? There was something much bigger going on here. That was another lesson. If you see people through God's eyes, it's a much bigger picture.

I recently read the following story about Carol Burnett and thought it was also a great example of composure:

Actress Carol Burnett got out of a cab one day and caught her coat in the door. The driver was unaware of her plight and slowly began to edge out into traffic. To keep from being pulled off her feet, the comedienne had to run alongside down the block.

A passerby noted her predicament and quickly alerted the driver. He stopped, jumped out, and released Miss Burnett’s coat. “Are you all right?” he asked anxiously.

“Yes,” she gasped, “but how much more do I owe you?”

She could have reacted in such a different way. But she had composure and it made for a great story. Would this story have been told if she had called the cab driver an idiot, asked for his supervisor's name and cussed him out? Possibly, but this common-reaction-story would have likely fizzled quickly.

By the way, I remember reading in a John Maxwell book that "response" is positive while "reaction" is negative. We many times use these terms interchangeably but I like the distinction. He used the example of a patient and prescribed medication. Responding to medication is a good thing, while reacting to it is a bad thing. The point here is that God wants us to respond to situations with mercy, grace, composure, self-control, and love, not to react with vengeance, anger, and violent behavior.

I like Jesus' response to Peter cutting off the high-priests ear. Jesus was in the midst of betrayal and was about to be carried away to be brutally murdered, but he calmly rebuked Peter, healed the high-priests ear, and was more concerned about the people with him than with himself. Interestingly, the verse before this happened (John 18:1), it says that Jesus had just finished praying. I believe that this is the secret to having composure. To have the fruit of the Spirit, you must be in tune with the Spirit.

If you want to test your patience, I suggest having children. If you need a test of composure, I highly recommend taking up golf. If you don't want to throw a club and cuss like a sailor with every swing you are a better person than me. I am guessing that we all have things in our lives that are tests of our composure. My advice is to be prayed up and allow the Holy Spirit to be present and in control even when you do not feel that you are able. He is able!

Father God, in the name, and blood, and authority of the Lord Jesus, I pray that you will give us composure to handle every situation according to your Word and Spirit so that it will please you. Please give us your Spirit to show grace and mercy to others who are imperfect just was we are. Please use this tool as a witness to glorify you in Jesus Name.

05.03.2016 - God Is Interested
As I was praying this morning, I prayed "Father, thank you for taking an interest in my life". I immediately felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me that I would not have a life if God had not created me in the first place. Of course, He is interested in my life. Is a painter interested in his own masterpiece? Is he, who in painstaking detail, paints a painting out of his desire to create something from nothing not interested in what he has created? That doesn't even make sense. A creator by his very nature is passionate about his creation. A painter in his painting, a sculptor in his sculpture, a song writer in his song, a writer in his writing, a poet in his poetry, and yes, God is not only interested but passionate about His creation. Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth is passionate about you.

I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort in knowing that, as His creation, He is actively, passionately, continuously, interested in my life and yours as His creation.

And, as a painter paints with an end result in mind, God created us, each with a specific purpose in mind. Seek Him to find the purpose He has designed you for and focus on that. I believe this is the secret to true fulfillment.

Father, thank you for taking an active interest in our lives. Thank you for loving us and creating us for your specific purpose. Please reveal to us your purpose and allow us to fulfill your purpose in our lives in Jesus Name, Amen.

05.01.2016 - Drink From The Well
According to everdayhealth.com "Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water." That's not hard to believe, as every diet, fitness guru, and medical doctor maintain the common thread that water is vital to a healthy body.

Recently as I was praying I realized that I was spiritually dehydrated. I heard the Holy Spirit say in that moment "Drink from the well". I realized that it is possible to dehydrate your spirit just as you can dehydrate your body. If you do not feel as close to God as you have or as you want to, you may be spiritually dehydrated. When you are physically dehydrated, there are symptoms such as irritability and confusion. When you are spiritually dehydrated, there are symptoms such as not hearing from God and thinking and acting in a flesh-first way. At least this is my experience.

When you are physically dehydrated, your body craves and needs water. When you are spiritually dehydrated, your spirit craves and needs living water.

If you are spiritually hydrated; reading God's Word, hearing from the Holy Spirit, and doing what He is leading you to do and seeing His fruit in your life, fantastic! If you are spiritually dehydrated you must drink in God's Word and presence to become spiritually healthy again. If you feel as dehydrated as I do sometimes, I suggest hooking up to a spiritual IV! Once you are hydrated, stay hydrated. You must drink spiritually every day to stay spiritually hydrated just as you must drink physically every day to stay physically hydrated. Get plugged in to His Word and His Will and do whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do even if it's not easy. Many times the Holy Spirit will ask us to do simple things that are not easy.

You can't expect to go for days without hydrating your body and remain healthy. And by the way, coffee tea, and coke will not hydrate the physical body in place of water and there is also no substitute for getting in His Word, seeking Him, and acting on His prompting to hydrate spiritually.

You cannot put natural fuel in a spiritual tank and expect supernatural results. Drink from the well so that you do not become spiritually dehydrated today!

Father God, we love you and praise you. All we need is you. Help us to always hunger and thirst for you. Please meet us where we are and drench us with your Holy Spirit in Jesus Name.

03.31.2016 - Unique
When I first started writing this blog, I decided that I would only write when I believed that I had heard from the Holy Spirit and when I knew He was guiding my words. Sometimes, I am discovering, that depending on my spiritual state, this may not be every day. As such, it has been a couple of weeks since my last writing.

Over the past few days, however, I have felt the Holy Spirit over and over speaking the word "unique" into my spirit. As I was working in the yard, I began thinking about what it will be like when we get to heaven. I began to think about how there will be so many people in heaven praising and glorifying God, and I began to wonder if my praise would even matter. What a selfish thought. At that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said "Everyone's praise is unique". Wow! I had never thought of that. We each have a specific, personal, and unique connection with God. And why not? He created each of us as unique beings. I believe that our prayers and our praise are unique to Him in a way that is difficult for us to comprehend but is very relevant and very important. Your praise matters. No one else can praise Him for you in the way that He designed you to praise Him.

Still pondering this, I began reading Pastor Bill Purvis' new book "Make A Break For It". I couldn’t even get through the introduction before reading "He loves you as His unique creation, as one of His very own children". There's that word again (unique). As I read this I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me to write about this and confirming what He kept saying… "unique". I kept reading. The very next paragraph stated "God has the power and the desire to perform a miracle in your life if you're willing to trust Him with your future. When you do, you'll discover the unique purpose He created just for you." Wow! Ok, message received, but I kept reading. I made it through the first chapter, being stubborn but wanting to read, and then turned the page to chapter 2 entitled "Uniquely You". Okay, I give up. In case you have ever wondered, you can run but you can't hide from the Lord. I had asked Him to give me something to write and He is always faithful even when I am not.

I believe that He must want someone out there to hear the words "You were created uniquely by God for a special and specific purpose". I believe this with all my heart. And I believe that our praise and our service to the Lord is also unique and special to Him.

Psalm 139 tells us that God "created our inmost being" and "knit us together in our mother's womb" and that we were "fearfully and wonderfully made", we were "woven together in the depths of the earth" and that our days were "ordained". Does anything about that sound cookie cutter to you? Absolutely not! We were not made on an assembly line. We were handmade, custom designed, by the creator Himself to be a one-of-a-kind Masterpiece! You are unique. Embrace it, enjoy it, and be unique for God's glory!

03.16.2016 - Let go of God
Standing in church Sunday, as we were singing, "Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm", the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said "You need to let go of God". I knew in my spirit that He was telling me to stop holding on to God for myself. Instead of having a "secret" relationship with God, He wants us to "let go" of Him. We need to release God into the lives of those around us. I feel the power of the Holy Spirit now as I write this and I know this is from Him.

God does not want us to hide our relationship with Him. On the contrary, we are to be bold in our faith and to be bold about our faith. Acts 28:31 tells us to PROCLAIM the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with ALL BOLDNESS and WITHOUT HINDRANCE.

I love this scripture in Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." Dwell on that for a second. As bold as a lion. Think about an actual lion. No fear, top of the food chain, when he roars you can be certain that everything around him is trembling in fear. This is the kind of boldness the Bible says that we should have. Is your boldness equal to that of a lion? Do you love God? Worship Him? Serve Him? Tell others about Him? Share your faith?

Father God, I come before you, as always, in the Name of Jesus, and I ask you to give us a passion for you and a boldness to share Christ with others. Holy Spirit, please open doors of opportunity to witness and proclaim the Name of Jesus to those we encounter and please open their hearts to receive you. We thank you for this and all things in Jesus Name, Amen.

03.11.2016 - Disposal
As many of you are probably aware, my family and I have been displaced from our home for almost 4 months due to a plumbing challenge. Happy to say that we are now back in our home and getting organized and setup. During this process, we decided to replace our washer and dryer and, of all things, our dishwasher stopped working.

A byproduct of challenges always seems to be education. Sometimes this learning is welcome, other times, the learning doesn't come the easy way. Either way, when you are faced with challenges, there will probably be opportunities to learn.

In my case, having to get rid of an old washer, dryer, and dishwasher, I was reminded that these types of items cannot be left out by the road for pickup. Household trash can be taken care of in a more routine way, but some items must be disposed of properly.

As I was praying this morning, I began to evaluate challenges in my life, and realized that there was some garbage that I needed to get rid of. I also realized that the Holy Spirit could help with this. In fact, He wants to remove the spiritual junk from our lives. I began to pray "Holy Spirit, I surrender all to you in word and in action. Please dispose of the lust, greed, pride, jealousy, arrogance, selfishness, idolatry, and anything else that is displeasing to you in my life. Please deliver me from all unrighteousness". Just being transparent, that is my list. Yours may be different. The point is that the Holy Spirit wants us to surrender to Him and He wants to help us dispose of the garbage in our lives.

Later, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that we can get rid of the trash that we bring into our house. If you bring a gallon of milk home, you can throw the empty milk jug in the trash, and take the trash out yourself, not a problem. In other words, take out your own garbage. However, If something is delivered to your house, let's say a dishwasher, it will need to be removed from your house, and it should be disposed of properly.

It's the same way spiritually. If you bring or allow spiritual trash into your spiritual house, you can and should also remove it. But if spiritual garbage is delivered to you, it may require deliverance to be disposed of properly. The things that are delivered to you will require deliverance and disposal.

Father God, I pray in the precious blood of Jesus that you will deliver us from evil and root out all unrighteousness in our lives. Holy Spirit, please expose and dispose anything in our lives that exists needing extermination. We love you and we thank you for this, in Jesus Name, Amen.

03.10.2016 - Man In The Mirror
In the last blog entry I wrote "I believe that this is a calling for us as believers to immerse ourselves in His Word." Honestly, this should be easy but sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's easy to do what we know we are supposed to do and other times, for whatever reason, it just seems really hard.

So the reality is that I knew that I should be spending more time in the Word but I haven't. The consequence of this is what I call "being dry". Similar to a drought, or dry spell, we can fall into spiritual droughts as well. This is an example of what not to do. The good news is that there is an antidote to being dry which is being in His presence where He pours out His Spirit like rain. We absolutely must, as Christians, spend time in God's presence. Study and meditate on His Word, Pray, Seek, Praise, and listen to music that glorifies His Name. By the way, I am totally hooked on the band Jesus Culture. Very anointed. Check them out on YouTube. I listen to them daily. I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit just by listening to them.

A couple of points here. One, for me personally, I haven't written in a couple of days because I haven't felt inspired to write. This is because I haven't done the last thing the Holy Spirit instructed me to do. If you are going through a spiritual drought, check yourself. It's very likely that you are not in His presence enough. Ramp it up. Sometimes you may be waiting on an answer you have already received. If God has already given you an answer, in my case, He instructed me to immerse myself in His Word, but because I didn't do this right away, He was actually waiting on me. This waiting can feel dry and it may seem that God is far away when we are out of His will. When this happens, go back to the last place you heard from God and pick up from there. That's exactly what I am trying to do now. Also, I should point out that when you have to backtrack it takes more time and is a more difficult path. My advice is to do exactly what the Holy Spirit instructs when He instructs.

One trick I have learned to getting the Word, is to play it on your phone. As I was getting ready for work a couple of days ago, I had the Bible app on my phone playing Ephesians 3. As it was playing and I was listening trying to retain what I was hearing I looked into the mirror. At that moment, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I must begin acting on His Word and not hearing it only. I immediately thought of the scripture in James and had to laugh in amazement at how God teaches.

James 1:23-25 "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

Father, please give us the strength to do what you ask us to do when you ask us to do it. Please allow us to stay in your presence and to act on your Word in Jesus Name, Amen.

03.07.2016 - Man of His Word
Recently, as a Father, I had to intervene and lay down the law at my house over something that needed to change. Without going into great detail, there was daily bickering over the same subject and I had had enough. I gave very specific instructions and stated very specific consequences if my instructions were not followed. The following day, things seemed much better but the mark was not quite hit. When it came time to delve out the stated consequences I found myself in a dilemma. I could let it slide, after all, my instructions were almost followed, but then it hit me. If, as a father, I do not follow through with what I said I would do then I am not a man of my word. At that moment I heard the Holy Spirit say "Man of his word".

Because God is true and just, I wonder if He, as a father, would like to let us slide but doesn't because He is true to His Word. If He says there are consequences, there are consequences. The good news is that He also says "Believe in My Son and you will have everlasting life". I believe that there is nothing more true than the Word of God. In fact, I am betting my life on it. The great news is that the debt has already been paid and the bet is fixed.

As I was writing on this topic I felt that something was missing so I decided to sit on it for a while. This is a lesson the Holy Spirit has taught me recently. Sometimes the answers to your prayers do not come right away and sometimes they don't come all at once. Sometimes, as in this case, I needed to wait on the Holy Spirit to get the total picture.

Graciously, the Holy Spirit later showed me what I was missing. I was thinking in terms of a man being a man of his own word. When the Holy Spirit said to me "Man of His Word" he was showing me that He wanted me to write about man being a man of God's Word! Being a Man of His Word! Praise God!

For my female readers, the word "man" in this context is intended to mean human or mankind, not male. This could just as easily be "Woman of His Word". The point is that God wants us to be of His Word. He wants us to be of Him. What a glorious thing. I believe that this is a calling for us as believers to immerse ourselves in His Word. If I have learned anything from my walk, it is listen to the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. Let us begin to read His Word more and to become people of God's Word.

Father, please pour out your spirit on each of us and allow us to be people of you and for you. Allow us to be men and women, boys and girls of your Word. Thank you for this opportunity in Jesus Name, Amen.

03.05.2016 - Wax On Wax Off
In one of my earliest blog entries I talked about how I was writing out of obedience and how doing this God's way was so much better than my way. I commented about how writing daily was causing me to study and pray every day as I should have been doing anyway. I could see that this was God's plan and thought I had grasped the extent of the difference. I wasn't even close.

Driving down the road a couple of days ago, I began to pray, "Lord please help me to swing my sword. When I get knocked down please give me the strength to pick up something while I am down there and to get up swinging. Please help me to keep my guard up." I stopped when I realized that I was praying using titles from my blog entries. I had to laugh in amazement when I realized that the Holy Spirit has been leading to me write about topics which I needed to hear and is teaching me through my own writing. Again, His way is so much higher than our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Because of this one thing that I did in faith, exactly as the Holy Spirit instructed, the extent of the blessings that are occurring now as a result are immeasurable.

If you have ever seen the movie Karate Kid, you will surely remember how Mr. Miagi taught Daniel-San karate through his clever wax on wax off method of teaching. You may remember that Daniel-San was frustrated because he wanted to learn karate but all he seemed to be doing was his master's work. It's not that much different for us as Christians. We must, in faith, simply go and do as we are led by our Master and have confidence in Him that the outcome will be better than we could ever hope for or comprehend.

However the Holy Spirit leads, even when we cannot comprehend the why, we must have child-like faith and be obedient. His plans for us are always for our good and they are infinitely more complex and integrated with future blessings than we can comprehend.

My encouragement for you today is that you follow the lead of the Holy Spirit regardless of your understanding, logic, common sense, or any other conventional wisdom that cannot compare to His infinite wisdom. Have faith in Him. This sometimes requires a step when you cannot see the floor in front of you. While you are waxing, He may be teaching you karate!

03.04.2016 - Holy Ghost Goggles
As I was writing yesterday's blog on collaborating with the Holy Spirit, I wrote "Allow the Holy Spirit to be in front of you all day and all night." As I was writing this I was seeing a vision of myself looking through a lens. I was focusing on what was in front of me. At first the space was empty. Then I thought of (focused on) the Holy Spirit and He moved in front of the lens. He was not visible to the naked eye, but I knew in my spirit that He was right there in front of me. He was transparent, but present. When I thought of Him, the focus, my focus, began to be on Him, literally. I tried to put this into words yesterday by saying "allow the Holy Spirit to be in front of you" but I sensed that there was more.

This morning, as I prayed on the way to work, the Holy Spirit revealed more about this. He showed me that if I put Him in front of me, if I put my focus on Him, that everything else that comes into view will be seen through Him!!! WOW! This was such an amazing revelation to me.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, when you are about to focus on something, remember to allow, to "put" in a sense, the Holy Spirit right in front of you. Keep your focus on Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to always be in your field of view. Think of Him as a filter that goes on the camera of your life. If He is between you and everything else, you will begin to see through and operate in Him. You will begin to see people, situations, and circumstances through His eyes. This will change your perspective. God wants us to see people through His eyes. Think about that for a minute. How does God see people? With love, patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, mercy, and grace. How does God make decisions? With perfect wisdom. How does He handle situations? With patience, goodness, kindness, and mercy. He lives within us, let's allow Him to be in control. Put your focus on Him and He will.

He wants our view to be through His Spirit. The way we do this is by allowing, inviting, and dwelling in the presence of the Holy Spirit and by keeping our focus on Him.

Put your Holy Ghost Goggles On!

03.03.2016 - Collaborate
In corporate America, "collaborate" is a word we seem to be hearing a lot lately. Interestingly, I recently learned that our Japanese counterparts use the word "deliberate" instead. In either case, the objective is the same, to work consciously, intentionally, jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.

In the context of the present corporate vernacular the intended message is really about teamwork and communication. The fundamental message is really nothing new; work together. This is both a simple and a powerful concept.

In a broader sense, we sometimes hear the word collaborate used when someone is teaming up with an expert in their field. A famously successful interior designer, composer, song writer, artist, or athlete are just a few examples that come to mind.

So here is my question. If corporations place a high value on collaboration, and individuals who want professional results align themselves with experts in their field, how much more should we as Christians align ourselves and collaborate with the Holy Spirit? He is an expert in every field!

Admittedly, it took me a long time as a Christian to figure this one out. The Holy Spirit wants to have a continuous, collaborative relationship with us 24/7. That's right, He doesn't want us to pray before we go to work and then forget about him all day. Or give no thought to Him all day and then say our prayers at night. Or to only be in His presence in church. Do you do this? I think I have, but I learned a better way. If you have Jesus in your heart, He goes with you where you go. The Holy Spirit seems to be activated by our acknowledgement of Him. We must consciously and continuously place our focus on Him. Driving down the road, walking down the street, while we work, when we interact with others, and in everything we do. The Holy Spirit is the best friend you will ever have and He is with you. Talk to Him, seek His guidance, pray that He will give you wisdom, and collaborate with Him.

Personally, I have experienced a much greater intimacy in my spiritual walk just by making this one change. Allow the Holy Spirit to be in front of you all day and all night. Constantly remind yourself to seek the Holy Spirit in every situation. Constantly remind yourself that He is there. Pray without ceasing. Ask Him to allow you to see others through His eyes. It will change you.

Father, thank you so much for sending your Holy Spirit and for your presence in our lives. Holy Spirit, we invite you to work in and through us in everything we do. Help us to be constantly reminded of your presence wherever we are in Jesus Name, Amen.

03.02.2016 - Holy Fire
Yesterday morning, my first prayer was "What do you want me to write about today?", to which I heard the Holy Spirit say "Holy Fire". I responded "but I don't know anything about Holy Fire". The Holy Spirit replied "That's exactly why I want you to write about it". Whoa. Okay, I think I understand. If I were only writing about what I know, I would be doing this from my own knowledge and strength; by my might. This was a reminder that what I write comes from the Holy Spirit and not from me. It also means that I get to learn along the way. Just another example of how God's ways are higher than our ways. So, with that, let's explore what the Holy Spirit wants to share with us today about Holy Fire. Father God, please pour out your spirit and speak to us today freely about Holy Fire. Thank you in advance for what I know will be an Awesome Word from you. There is no other kind!

As I began to research "Holy Fire", and saw that it was sometimes referred to as "Holy Light", the Holy Spirit prompted me to share my baptism in the Holy Spirit experience. To be completely transparent, in a previous blog I mentioned speaking in tongues and later thought about taking that out because I did not want to freak anyone out. Later, the Holy Spirit reprimanded me, as only He can, in a way that now has turned into a desire to share more about this now and in a moment you will see why.

Thirty-three years ago, on a Friday night, I remember reading John 3:5, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." I remember praying, "God, the next chance I get I want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit." To my surprise, a friend of my Dad's called him the following morning and said that there was something special happening that night at Evangel Temple. Dad asked us to go and we did.

I don't remember the service, but I do remember the invitation. There was a point during the invitation when I remember tuning out the pastor. It was as if the Holy Spirit had taken over my thoughts. I remember feeling His presence so strongly that I had tears in my eyes. There was a large stone wall to my right with two, tall, vertical, blue, stained glass windows. My attention was drawn to the first blue window on the left. At that moment, a light came through the window as if a giant light from outside had been turned on. It was a strangely pleasant light. Not harsh at all and it moved slowly. As it came through the window and towards me, I knew immediately in my spirit that it represented God, the Father. My attention was then drawn to the second blue window. As I looked at it through the tears, a light came through the second window, and immediately in my spirit I knew this represented Jesus. As I was thinking about how I "had the Father and had the Son" in my life because of salvation, it was as if the volume was turned on again and I heard the pastor say "If anyone would like to receive…I saw a third light, this one came from the same window as Jesus and at the moment I realized this represented the Holy Spirit and I heard the pastor say "…the baptism in the Holy Spirit, please come down front" I just received the Holy Spirit! Right there where I stood. WOW, that just happened! I felt the presence of God so strongly I was overwhelmed.

There was no question that the Lord was speaking to me and giving me a very clear message to act on what had just happened and what I had already committed to do. I think I said something like "Excuse me" to the person next to me indicating that I wanted to get out. A little old lady, must have been in her eighties, grabbed me by the hand. She had a shockingly strong grip. I mean I thought she was going to crush my hand. She led me out into the aisle and may have walked me to the altar. I do remember another hand on my back as I knelt at the altar probably sobbing and praying. The experience is hard to describe. It was as if I was in the presence of God. I know that I was. It was a euphoria like nothing else. I stayed for a while and someone came up and talked to me. They wanted to know if I had spoken in tongues. I said "No". Honestly, it was in there. It felt like words had been born and were in head and wanted to get out but I was having a hard time opening my mouth. She finally said "Just open your mouth and try". I remember saying words that I had never heard before and still do not know what they mean. She seemed excited and said "You got your prayer language!" I was very excited about this, but in truth, I got much more than that. I believe that this was the point of beginning for a much more intimate walk with the Lord by accepting the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to wash over me and indwell me.

Here's why I am sharing this with you now. I am usually not very good with remember dates, however, I have always remembered that this happened on a Saturday and it has always stuck in my mind that the lights seemed blue. Neither detail ever really seemed all that important until I started researching Holy Fire.

There is a miracle that happens every year called "The Holy Fire", also called "Holy Light" which occurs every year on a Saturday! The Holy Fire (Greek Ἃγιον Φῶς, "Holy Light") is described by Orthodox Christians as a miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Great Saturday, or Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter. In reading more about this, I read "From the core of the very stone on which Jesus lay an indefinable light pours forth. It usually has a blue tint but the colour can change and take many different hues. It cannot be described in human terms. The light rises out of the stone as mist may rise out of a lake — it almost looks as if the stone is covered by a moist cloud, but it is light."

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit on a Saturday, saw blue lights come from a stone wall representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost! WOW! This was no accident. This was not circumstance or coincidence. We serve a God who is intentional, providential, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. We serve a God who loves us and wants to show us His power. Let Him.

If you have never experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I believe that it is as easy as asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

Father, according to your Word, we are to be baptized with water and with your Spirit. We have accepted Jesus Christ, Your Son, as our Lord and Savior, please fill us now with your Holy Spirit in Jesus Name, Amen..

To read more about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, here is a good article: http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/what-is-baptism-in-the-holy-spirit

Also, check out this article on the Miracle of Holy Fire that happens every year in Jerusalem: http://www.holyfire.org/eng/velich.htm

God Bless You!

03.01.2016 - Knocked Down
We have talked on a number of occasions about spiritual warfare. (e.g.) Being Ready For Battle, Fighting Temptation, The Power of the Tongue, Swinging your Sword, Knowing your Gifts, The Armor of God, Thought Life, Acting on Faith, The Fruit of the Spirit, God's Word, God's Power, Praying Through, Speaking to the Mountain, Spiritual Eyes, Defense, Keep Climbing, Giving In To God, and Keeping your Guard up. All God-inspired and relevant topics to living informed, prepared, protected, and battle-ready Christian lives. If you have just started reading this blog or have missed some of the previous entries, I would like to encourage you to go back and read these when you can.

I feel led this morning to write about my current spiritual condition and it is my prayer that by sharing my successes as well as struggles that it will help you as well. Sometimes you swing your sword, sometimes you climb, sometimes you keep you guard up, but the reality is that sometimes you get knocked down. That's where I am today. I don't plan to pitch a tent here, but since this happened, I wanted to address it as I am sure I am not the only one this happens to.

I have been sick and just haven't felt like doing much of anything. In the middle of being sick, was a house move, a couple of car wrecks, and a bunch of other junk. As a result, maybe an excuse, I have not been praying, studying, or writing as I have been. This was my mistake. The devil looks for weakness and will take any opportunity you give him. Don't give him any! I let my guard down. When you are weak physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, this is the time to pray up not let off the gas. Give it to God, literally. The devil tried to come at me this morning and I prayed God, the devil is trying to bully me when I am weak. I resist him and give it to you. Problem solved.

My plan, and what I want to share with you today, is two-fold. One, make God your priority, no matter what. Not just in words, but in action. Do not let anyone, nor anything take the place of your number one priority which is serving and pleasing God. Period. Two, it's not that you fail or fall, this will happen. It's how you respond and recover that matters. My plan is to come back with a vengeance. If you are going to hit the bottom, pick up something while you are there and bounce hard and come back stronger.

If you feel that you are not as close to God as you should be or that you are not where should be spiritually, or maybe you too feel that you have been knocked down, my advice, and I am going to do the same, is get up! Fight back! Be relentless! Get up swinging! Make the devil sorry he took a poke at you. If you fall, do not make camp there. Do not feel guilty or sorry for yourself. This is not from God. Keep moving and start climbing. Be relentless in your pursuit of the things of God and He will move you from where you are to a better place. He is always with you no matter where you go.

Father, for myself and others who may feel knocked down, give us the strength to get up and fight back for your glory, in Jesus Name, Amen!

02.26.2016 - Focus On Others
Is your focus on you? It's a serious question. Let's be completely honest and ask ourselves the following questions: "Is my primary focus myself? Is my first priority me?" I think to some extent we have to place a certain amount of focus on ourselves to get up in the morning and get out the door. We have to put some focus on ourselves to survive in this world, however, God has called us to be so much more! He did not create us to survive, He created us to thrive, to live, and to live life more abundantly! He did not put us here solely for ourselves...

What if our objectives in life centered around everyone else? If we choose to help others before we help ourselves, we have the potential to help many people rather than just one. Think about that for a second. If every individual focused on the people around them rather than themselves, think how differently this world would be.

Now, if the idea of putting others before yourself seems foreign, you are not alone. Just turn on the TV and you will find shows, movies, and commercials depicting all of humanity who seem to be fascinated with themselves. The vanity, manipulation, corruption, violence, and complete disregard for others is a social and cultural epidemic. And all of its branches come from the same root; selfishness. It wasn’t that long ago when you might spot someone taking a picture of another person. Today it's all about the selfie. Look at me. Do I look good? I look good don't I? Me, me, me. I wish, I want, I need. This is the world's way. This is not God's plan for us. Pride, vanity, self-centeredness, arrogance, selfishness. All sin. God wants us to be humble and place our confidence in Him. Pray for humility and confidence. Pray that He will increase and that you will decrease. Pray for others. Put others needs before your own.

When you begin to put others before yourself several things will happen. One, you will be liked by those around you. Not the goal, but a nice byproduct. Why? Because you are putting their needs ahead of your own. Because your goal is not to make yourself look better. Build up others around you won't have to build yourself up. When we put others first, there is a burden that is lifted. The pressure is gone. If your focus shifts from your self-image to helping others with their self-image your perspective changes. Your goals change. This is how you move from a self-centered lifestyle to an others-first lifestyle.

Consider the greatest commandment; Mark 12:31 "Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

Galatians 6:10 commands us to do good to others as we are given the opportunity "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith." Praise God! The Holy Spirit has had me praying "Please give me opportunities to serve and wisdom to serve your people" for years now. I did not realize until now that there was a scripture that used the word "opportunity". Very cool. Loving the confirmation.

There are countless scriptures regarding how we should treat our "neighbor". Try praying for every car your pass. The Holy Spirit has prompted me to do this a few times and it is an amazing experience. This is the opposite of road-rage. This is prayer-patrol. Pray for those in authority over you and for those you are in authority over. Pray for your peers. Pray for your family. Pray for your enemies and those you don't like. Strip the devil of all his weapons. Don't follow the world's ways, follow God's Word and focus on others!

02.25.2016 - Forgive yourself?
Have you ever struggled with forgiving yourself? Does it seem harder to forgive yourself than it does to forgive others? Have you ever sinned, repented, asked God for forgiveness, believing that He forgave you but then struggled with forgiving yourself? Or maybe you did something a long time ago that you know was wrong and you are having a hard time letting it go. You just can't seem to forgive yourself? Does any of this sound familiar?

If you have ever had difficulty forgiving yourself, I have some really good news for you. It's okay. There is a very good reason why you do not feel that you can forgive yourself. It's because you can't! God is the only one that can forgive sins! If we could forgive ourselves of sin, why would we need God? 1 John 1:9, says it is God who forgives and who "cleanses" for all unrighteousness!

God doesn't need our help to forgive us of our sin. That's His job and He has it covered, literally. Covered in the blood of Jesus!

Suppose you were able to force yourself to accept that you have forgiven yourself.....all you have in fact done is force yourself to feel forgiven. True forgiveness of sin comes from God and God alone. After you have repented and asked God for forgiveness of your sin it is done. You are forgiven. It is settled. There is no more sin to be forgiven from.

When you feel that you are having trouble forgiving yourself, what is really happening is that the devil is furious because he knows that we are forgiven and he can't do anything about it. He can't steal our forgiveness, so he tries to steal our peace by placing doubt, fear, and guilt in our minds about the sin. But don't be fooled. He is a liar! God does not do anything halfway. If God says we are forgiven, we are forgiven. Forgiving ourselves is irrelevant. Accept His forgiveness. It's much better than any forgiveness we could give ourselves anyway. Instead of trying to forgive ourselves in addition to God's forgiveness, we should just go on with our lives with the assurance that we are forgiven!

Praise God! We are forgiven!

02.24.2016 - Write It Down
Sometimes there are things in our lives which we resist even though they are good for us. For me, keeping a journal falls into this category. Over the years I have heard people talk about the merits of journaling and it just didn't sound appealing. In fact, it sounded like a lot of work and I just didn’t want to. However, in my experience, pushing through the resistance to do something you are being led to do, especially if you don't want to, can be extremely rewarding. Such is the case for me with journaling. Looking back, it seems as though I starting journaling a few months ago, but in reality it was actually over 7 years ago! I only wish I had started sooner.

I am writing you today to encourage you to start a journal of your own. I'm not talking about a diary of events per se, but rather, I am suggesting that when the Lord speaks to you, write it down in your journal. When you pray a prayer, write it down in your journal so that you can give God the glory when He answers. When you read something that speaks to you, write it down in your journal. When you have a dream, a vision, an idea, a quote you want to remember, write it in your journal.

You don't have to do this every day. In fact, there are weeks and sometimes months between my entries. So what? Make yourself write when you are inspired. You will be glad you did. It also doesn't have to be long or eloquent. It can be a word or a phrase or 20 pages long. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as to what to write. I like this quote: "The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory"

According to Mark Batterson "Journaling is one of the most overlooked and undervalued spiritual disciplines. In my estimation, it's on par with praying, fasting, and meditating. It's the way we document what God is doing in our lives."

You will be amazed at how quickly you will accumulate prayers, thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. I personally use my computer to journal and entitle my entries with the date and subject of the entry. I can re-read, search, edit, and expand. Many of my early blog entries came straight from my journal of dreams, visions, and Words from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will give me a single word or phrase and I make an entry for it. Later it becomes a topic to research or a blog entry to post. If you prefer pen and paper, go for it!

As the Lord leads you, begin to write down what you hear and learn. Start a journal. It's a powerful tool. I resisted it for years but found it to be a life changer.

Jeremiah 30:2 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you."

02.23.2016 - Return Fire
A couple of days ago, we talked about keeping our guard up. We said that it is important to be prepared for a retaliation when we throw a punch spiritually. I think it is also important to be able to retaliate spiritually.

Here is what I mean. There was a time when the devil bullied me and I didn’t really know how to fight back. If I had a bad dream, for example, that woke me up, I would just go back to sleep and be restless.

Later, I realized the source, and started rebuking the devil. This is what we should do. Fast forward a few years. I realized that I had a greater power inside of me than the devil. He tried to put some junk in my head one night and I woke up. I decided that night that from that point forward, if he ever woke me up again he would be sorry. I started praying bold prayers, speaking in tongues, rebuking him, praising God, and returning fire. The Holy Spirit taught me to fight back! I was not restless, I was relentless! I went back to sleep with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.

I decided that night that I was going to be the warrior God had created me to be. We are not defenseless. As a matter of fact, if you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you have unlimited power! If the devil attacks you or your family or even tries to put a thought in your head that is not from God, make him sorry he bothered you. Unleash the power of the Holy Spirit and the devil will head for the hills and after he is gone, keep praying. Be relentless!

02.22.2016 - Hunger for God
Have you ever had hunger pains? I think most of us have probably experienced hunger at some level. Maybe we went too long between meals or missed a meal for some reason and felt hungry, but I would venture a guess that most of us reading this have never experienced true hunger; the kind of hunger that only comes when food is required to survive and there is none. This kind of hunger and desperation is only endured by a starving person; a person desperate for food. A starving person is consumed with doing anything and everything in their power to find the thing which will allow them to survive, to live.

I believe that this is the kind of hunger God wants us to have for Him. The "I must be in His presence to survive" type of hunger. He wants us to be desperate for Him! To seek Him like a starving person seeks food, like a thirsty person seeks water, like a drowning person seeks air, like a dying person holds on to their last breath. He doesn't want us to have a causal relationship with Him, He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. He doesn't want us to take Him for granted the way we take most everything for else granted.

He put us here to glorify Him, to serve Him, to worship Him. Too many times, if we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of putting ourselves at the center of the universe and begin to believe that God was put here for us. He was here first! We were put here for Him! He wants us to thirst and hunger for Him. (Psalm 63:1) "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." and He tells us that He will bless us and fill us if we long for Him. (Matthew 5:6) "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Father, show us your glory. We are passionate for you. We thirst and hunger for you. We are desperate to be in the presence of your Holy Spirit and we know that we need you to survive and to live. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. We hunger for you Lord, in Jesus Name.

02.21.2016 - Thread
This morning I woke up and my first thought was the word "thread". Then I thought "I want to keep God on a constant thread today." In this context, I was thinking of the computer science term "thread" which means to allow multiple processes to run simultaneously. I know this was the Holy Spirit teaching me that it is possible to go about our daily lives and still be conscience of, and connected with, the Holy Spirit. How else could we pray without ceasing? This is powerful!

The Holy Spirit wants to be with us wherever we go and wants to be active in everything we do. The fact is that He is actually where you are now and He is already where you are going. (Psalm 139:7) "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?"

Don't tune him out just because what you are doing is routine. He doesn't just live in church. He is everywhere, literally. He is with you when you wake up. He is with you when you sleep. He is with you in your car. He is present when you are at school, at work, eating lunch, talking to your friends, watching TV. No matter what you are doing, no matter where you are, He is present. Wherever you go, He is there. Psalm 139:8-10 "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

Continually acknowledge His presence and meditate on His Word even if the setting doesn't seem spiritual. If you have accepted His Son then He lives in your heart and He is with you wherever you go and He wants to be involved in everything you do. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31). This is one of those fill in the blank scriptures. Whatever you do.

Personally, I have begun to think about Him more during the day and incredible things are happening in my life. My spiritual life, and life in general, has become so much richer because of His presence. I am experiencing His favor in so many ways. My relationship with Him is so much more intimate just by spending more time with Him. I have discovered that He has been there the whole time waiting on me! All you have to do is acknowledge Him, allow Him in, surrender to His will, let Him know that you want His presence, and then purposely think about Him. If you seek to be in His presence, you will!

Father, we love you and we praise you, and we ask that your Holy Spirit would be a constant in our lives regardless of where we are or what we are doing. Please give us the faith, strength, and endurance to do all things for your glory, in Jesus Name.

02.20.2016 - Keep Your Guard Up
Can you guess when a boxer is most susceptible to getting punched? I can tell you, it's right after he delivers a blow of his own. The reason? There are several. One, he is so excited that he landed a punch that they he hadn't considered what would happen next. Second, his pride causes him to pause to think about what he just did rather than preparing for a return punch. And finally, he may be weary from being on the offensive. What did he do wrong? He let his guard down.

It took me months of playing racquetball to learn a similar lesson. If you have ever played, you know the idea is to hit the ball in such a way that your opponent cannot return it. Many times this is a kill shot which is hit in the corner so low and fast that it is almost impossible to return. These shots are hard to make and even harder to return. I remember hitting a number of these shots and then relaxing afterwards because I knew the shot would not be returned. And then one day, I hit the shot, relaxed, and my opponent returned the shot but I wasn’t ready. I was just standing there in awe as the ball went flying by. What just happened? I just hit an awesome shot but lost the point. I let my guard down. If you think about it, this has applications in many areas and spiritual battles are no exception.

As soon as you resist a temptation and win a battle, the devil is likely already planning his next attack. Do not let your pride allow you to be vulnerable to a retaliation. Do not become a spectator of your own good works. Stay in the game, ready for the next play. Do not let your guard down. Stay alert and always be ready for battle.

Father, please make us strong against temptation and pride. Please give us discernment to know when we are letting our guard down and help us to always be ready to do battle against evil, in Jesus Name.

02.19.2016 - Giving In
At this very moment, I stopped what I was doing to start writing this because the Holy Spirit is lighting me up! He is showing me that when He wants to speak to us that we should not resist Him. In previous blogs we explored how to resist, rebuke, and ask the Holy Spirit for the way out when faced with temptation. The opposite is true when it is the Holy Spirit calling. When He is knocking, we need to stop what we are doing and give in, surrender, accept, allow, bask in, dwell in, enjoy His presence, and allow Him full control. He loves us, wants the best for us, wants to prosper us, and gives us light, joy, peace, and every good thing. Allow Him to!

We have discussed how to handle the devil when he comes knocking and I suggested picturing a reject button. When it's the Holy Spirit knocking, no need for a button. In these instances, the visual I have is eyes closed, facing the sky, arms wide in the air, smile on my face, in complete surrender to everything He wants to say and do in my life.

Father, thank you so much for sending us your Holy Spirit and I pray today that you continually speak to us through Him. We surrender all to you and willingly give you control and priority in our lives in Jesus Name.

02.18.2016 - Complaining
Not long ago after listening to someone complaining, I wrote the following "Complaining about the things you cannot change is pointless. Complaining about the things you can change is laziness. My only complaint is that people complain."

Have you ever met someone who constantly complains? I'm not talking about the person who has legitimate reasons for seeking help. I'm talking about the person whose pattern of conversation is grumbling as if every facet of their life is miserable. And let me tell you, misery may love company, but the people listening to this garbage are not loving the company. This kind of person would gripe about having to pay taxes after winning the lottery. It's like their goal in life is to make you feel as bad for them as possible.

I'm not saying I never complain, but I will tell you that I fight it and so should you. Fight the urge to complain like every other sin. Resist it, reject it, rebuke it, and ask the Holy Spirit to replace your thoughts with something better.

Let me be very clear. Complaining is not from the Holy Spirit. Complaining is yet another one of those subtle little tools of the devil. The devil knows that complaining and grumbling are detrimental to your peace and your joy. It is not a fruit of the Spirit. Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength. So when the devil tries to get you to complain, and he is the source of complaints, his real intent is to attack your joy which is your strength. Don't be fooled. Don't fall for it. Stay strong and be joyful!

Also, as Christians, complaining is destructive and debilitating personally but can also serve to make our witness to the world more difficult. Who would be attracted to a religion whose adherents are dissatisfied with life and continually grumbling and complaining?

Philippians 2:14-16 tells us "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain."

Father, we have so much to be thankful for, even on our worst days. Please forgive us for ever complaining. Help us to always base our joy on you and not on our circumstances. Help us to always look for the good in people and allow us to find it within ourselves, for your glory, in Jesus Name. Amen.

02.16.2016 - Keep Climbing
Not sure if any of you ever had the big base speakers in your car or possibly had a friend with 10's or 12's or even 15's. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. LOL.

The interesting thing about these stereo systems is that the impact of the sound always seemed to degrade over time. You find yourself turning the volume higher and higher and eventually considering wanting a louder stereo to get the same effect as when you installed it. But why? Did the sound diminish? The answer is No. Our ears adjust to what we hear. Most likely to protect themselves, or possibly hearing loss, but I digress. The point is that we were designed to adjust to inputs and surroundings. Our eyes adjust to light, our nose adjusts to smell, our bodies adjust to our diet, our muscles adjust to exercise, and so on.

I believe that our spiritual lives also adjust. As we discussed recently, feeding the Spirit and starving the flesh causes our Spirit to become stronger and our flesh to become weaker. However, I want to suggest today that at the top of every hill is another plateau. I believe that God has something new for us every day. Another hill to climb, another adventure to take, another spirit-filled journey to embark upon.

What we cannot do is stop climbing because we are satisfied with where we are spiritually. If we stop climbing we start falling. As soon as we think we have arrived spiritually, that's a clear sign of pride and a mudslide waiting to happen. We must press on, push through, and endure. We must not grow weary, but instead, keep climbing with our eyes clearly fixed upon Him. Philippians 3:14 "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

Keep climbing.

02.14.2016 - Spirit vs. Flesh
Over the years, I have gotten to know myself a little better. Sound odd? Sound familiar? I'm not sure what everyone else's experience is on this one but my suspicion is that mileage may vary. I want to share today from my personal experiences on a topic which I believe is both relevant and important to living a healthy spiritual life.

If the title didn't give it away, half LOL, I want to explore operating in the Spirit vs. operating in the flesh. For those that may not be familiar with exactly what this is, let me take a moment to clarify.

But first, think for a moment about how you would describe yourself. Do you think of yourself as a spirit living in a body? This is what I call a "spirit first" perspective. Or, do you see yourself as having a body with a spirit living in it? Don't really have a good name for that yet, maybe "body first". Will work on that. This may seem like a subtle difference, but speaks to the 2 opposing natures and what may drive some of our tendencies.

I would guess that most of us think of ourselves as a human being who has a spirit. While this is a true statement it is also short-sighted. What we are on the inside, our spirit, is eternal and infinite. What we are on the outside; a body, is temporary, and one day will be nothing more than dust. Morbid? Only if you have no expectations beyond the grave. Hallelujah! I do!

So what I am really trying to get to here is placing a priority on His Spirit and not on our flesh. To emphasize the things of the Spirit in our lives and to deemphasize the things of the flesh. This goes way beyond how we think of ourselves. I like the response to the expression "The grass is greener on the other side", which is "The grass is greener wherever you water it".

This is true in our spiritual lives as well. If we are focused on carnal, worldly, selfish, sinful things (fleshly things) then our "flesh" will grow. It survives and thrives based on what we are supplying it; fuel if you will. If we focus on the things of the Spirit; prayer, worship, serving God, helping others, following the Holy Spirit's lead, then we will grow spiritually and we will be able to suppress our fleshly desires and please God. This is really a daily choice and when one is strong, the other is weak, and vice versa. These are 2 forces that are diametrically opposed to each other. The strength of one makes the other weak. The more faith you have the less fear you have. The more fear you have the less faith you have. You get the idea.

Now, the secret to living a Spirit-led life, is two-fold. One, feed your spirit, and Two, starve your flesh. When I stated earlier that "I have gotten to know myself a little better" what I meant was that I have and recognize indicators in my life as to whether I am operating in the Spirit or in the flesh. If you are having any doubts here, let me clear them up for you. You absolutely want to operate in the Spirit. Let me ask you a question. What is the difference between you and God…? It's the same difference! When we operate in the Spirit, His Spirit, we operate in His love, holiness, wisdom, will, mercy, grace, joy, compassion, selflessness, righteousness, and the list keeps going. When we operate in the flesh, selfishness and pride seem to be the seeds we sow. The short version; there is no comparison. But don’t take my word for it, take His Word: (Galatians 6:8) "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

Personally, and this is the "mileage may vary" part. I get a check in my spirit, a kind of flag raised when my thought-life goes to a place it should not go. Many years ago I had a foul mouth. I choose not to allow that anymore, however, if I start sliding toward operating in the flesh, I start hearing some of the old cuss words in my head. This is a clear warning to me that I have missed something. This actually happened to me yesterday which is why I chose to write this today. As soon as thoughts starting trying to creep into my mind that have no business being there I do a quick self-evaluation. I realized that I had not read my Bible all day and that I had barely prayed. I had not focused on being in the Spirit and my flesh was getting stronger.

This is the point to remember in all this. Learn what these signals are for you. When you get an alert, take action. Start praying, rebuking, studying, and seeking. Build your spiritual muscles and resist, suppress, and reject the thoughts and actions of the flesh. Operate in the spiritual, not in the flesh.

Father, we need you. I pray in the Name of Jesus, that you will teach us how to live in your Spirit and to suppress our flesh for your glory. Amen!

02.12.2016 - Prepare To Meet Your Maker
The phrase "Prepare to Meet your Maker" is commonly heard in action films when someone is staring down the barrel of a loaded gun or in some other life threatening situation. In thinking about this, it occurred to me that we will all meet our Maker, one way or another. However, if we are meeting Holy God for the first time when we die, then we are in trouble.

I would like to propose a new way to "Prepare to Meet your Maker". Meet Him now. Don't meet Him for the first time on judgment day and find out the hard way that all those people talking about Jesus were right.

It's simple. Admit that you are a sinner. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross and was raised from the dead to save you of your sins. Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Repent of your sins. If you do this, you will be saved, and the Spirit of God will live in you! You will be prepared to meet your Maker. In fact, you will have met your Maker!

My plan is not to meet God when I get to heaven, for I have already met Him. My plan is to continue my relationship with Him, worshiping Him day and night, glorifying His name for all of eternity. This is my plan and I know this is His plan for me. What is your plan? Are you prepared to meet your Maker?

02.11.2016 - Suffering
Monday I felt sick most of the day. I stayed at work, even went to the gym, but just couldn't seem to shake what turned out to be a virus. After work, I rushed home and got into bed. I'll spare you the details, but I was miserable and I was suffering. I remember praying, "Lord heal me, I am suffering". Through restless sleep, I ended up facing the clock and I opened my eyes. The time was 1:53. As I focused on the time, the Holy Spirit said "Isaiah". Somehow the time on the clock represented "Isaiah". At first I did not understand, but then realized it was a verse. I thought "Isaiah 1:53" but He corrected me, "No, Isaiah 53". I looked at the clock again and realized the 1 on the clock looked like the letter "I" and represented the book of "Isaiah". He was telling me to read Isaiah 53. Praise the Lord! I couldn’t wait, so I retrieved my phone from my night stand and began to read Isaiah 53. I wasn't familiar with this chapter and was excited about what must be there.

As I read verse 3, "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.", the word "suffering" jumped out at me like it was alive.

Whoa! You would think after all this time and seeing the Holy Spirit work, that I would no longer be surprised, but it surprised me. The Holy Spirit, knew my heart, knew my pain and suffering, prompted me to look at the clock at the precise time, and showed me a chapter that related to the very thing I was enduring and praying about! Wow!

But, I was reminded that He was specific that it wasn't a verse, but rather a chapter that I should read, so I read on. The very next verse, verse 4: "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted." WOW! There it was again, a second verse with the word "suffering". Thank you God, I know this is from you. And by the way, why am I sick?, I am healed. Please take this from me. Then I read verse 5. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

And then a strange thing happened. A moment of doubt, fever, human nature, not sure, but I heard myself think "Lord if this is really you show me the word suffer again." Before I could even complete the thought, I remembered what we recently learned about fleecing and I repented. "Lord I do not need to put a fleece before you. I know this is from you." Even then I had a feeling the Lord would mercifully reconfirm what He was showing me. As I continued to read, I got to verse 10,"Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." I was stunned. When I saw the word "suffer" I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. He is so real and infinitely wiser than we are and merciful even when we have doubts and moments of weakness.

But what was He showing me? Several things. One, He was showing me that He is in control. He knows our pain. He knows our suffering. He knows exactly "what time it is" and uses creative ways like this to reveal His sovereignty, authority, and His infinite wisdom to us. We are in His hand. We are "good" to use today's vernacular. I believe He was sending me the message "Do not worry my son, I have you".

Also, this made me realize that most of us probably do not know the true meaning of "suffering". Having a 24 hour virus does not qualify as true suffering in the biblical sense any more than finding a quarter on the ground and saying "awesome" qualifies as Awesome in the God sense of the word, but even in what we may consider "suffering" He still cares. He cares enough to speak, to reveal, to heal, and to comfort, and He is always faithful and with us regardless of who we are, where we are, or what we are going through. I take great comfort in knowing that wherever I go, He is already there!

So, to those reading this, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you have done, whatever you have been through, and whatever you may be going through, know this; you cannot surprise God, but He may just surprise you. You cannot shock God but He may shock you. You cannot overwhelm God, but I pray that He overwhelms you. He cares for you more than you have the capacity to care. He loves you more than you have the capacity to love. He wants good things for you beyond what you can fathom. All He requires is that you believe in Him, accept His Son, repent of your sin, and have faith. Do this and leave the rest up to Him.

02.08.2016 - The Holy Spirit
Sometimes we think of the Holy Spirit as the "third person" because of the order in which we describe the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But I believe that it is important to recognize that the trinity is 3 in 1 not 1 in 3. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is THE Holy Spirit. As I was praying in my study, the Holy Spirit directed me to a bookshelf and I was drawn to a book that was turned in a different direction than the others. This struck me as odd, and then the title jumped out at me… "Good Morning Holy Spirit." I could feel God's leading, so I opened the book and began reading. As I read, I began to have a much deeper understanding of who the Holy Spirit is. I want to share with you today an excerpt from this book written by Benny Hinn and I pray that it will bless you and have a powerful impact on you as did on me.

"…beyond salvation, beyond being baptized in water, beyond the infilling of the Spirit, the 'third person of the Trinity' is waiting for you to meet Him personally. He yearns for a lifelong relationship.

You ask, 'Who is the Holy Spirit?' I want you to know He is the most beautiful, most precious, loveliest person on the earth. God the Son is not on the earth. God the Father is not on the earth. They are both in heaven this very second.

Who is on the earth? God the Holy Spirit. For God the Father came to do His work through the Son who was resurrected. When God the Son departed, God the Holy Spirit came, and He is still here doing the work.

Think about it. When God the Son left, he would not even take John and Peter with Him. He said, "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer, You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, "Where I am going, you cannot come"…(John 13:33).

But when God the Holy Spirit leaves, which many believe is going to happen very soon, He's going to take the redeemed of the Lord with Him. It is called the Rapture. We will be caught up with Him to meet the Lord in the air.

Who is the Holy Spirit? I thought at one time He was like a vapor, something floating around that I could never really know, I learned that He is not only real, but that He has a personality.

What's on the Inside?

What makes me a person? Is it my physical body? I think not. I'm sure you have been to a funeral and have seen a person lying in a casket. Are you looking at a person? No! You are looking at a dead body.

You must realize that what makes a person is not the body. Instead, the person is what comes out of the body. Emotions. Will. Intellect. Feelings. These are just a few of the characteristics that make you a person and give you a personality.

People who watch me preach are not looking at Benny Hinn. They are only seeing my body. I am inside my physical body. It is the person inside who is important.

The Holy Spirit is a person. And just like you, He can feel, perceive, and respond. He gets hurt. He has the ability to love and the ability to hate. He speaks, and He has His own will. But exactly who is He? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father and the Spirit of God the Son. He is the power of the Godhead--the power of the Trinity.

What is his job? The task of the Spirit is to bring into being the commandment of the Father and the performance of the Son.

To understand the job of the Holy Spirit we need to understand the work of the Father and the Son. God the Father is the one who gives the command. He has always been the one who says, "Let there be." From the beginning, it has been God who gives the orders.

On the other hand, it is God the Son who performs the command of the Father. When God the Father said "Let there be light," God the Son came and performed it. Then, God the Holy Spirit, brought the light.

Let me illustrate it this way. If I asked you, "Please turn on the light," three forces would be involved. First, you would be the one who walks to the switch and flips it. In other words, you are the performer of the command. But finally, who brings on the light? It is not me, and it is not you. It is the power--the electricity--that produces light.

The Holy Spirit is the power of God. He is the power of the Father and of the Son. He is the one who brings into action the performance of the Son. Yet He is a person. He has emotions which are expressed in a way unique among Trinity.

I've been asked, "Benny, aren't you forgetting the importance of Christ in all of this? Never! How could I forget the one who loved and died for me? But some people are so focused on the Son that they forget the Father--the one who loved them and sent His Son. I cannot forget the Father nor the Son. But I cannot be in touch with the Father and the Son without the Holy Spirit. (see Ephesians 2:18).

02.07.2016 - Closet Christian
As Christ-followers, God did not call us to live in our prayer closet. We, myself included, should be wearing out the carpet with our knees in prayer alone before God, however, this is our preparation station, not our destination.

Praying is like the huddle in football and The Bible is the play book. As a player in the game, I go to the huddle and quietly get the play from the quarterback. Once I know the plan, I don't go sit on the bench until the next huddle…I line up and get ready to run the play! God doesn't want bench-warmers, He wants play-makers!

Spending time in the huddle is important and getting the play is key, but putting points on the board is how the game is won. God wants us in church. God wants us to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. God wants us to spend quiet time with Him and He wants us to know the established plan He has for us. But, and this is key, He also wants us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

If we are Christians in the closet, but act like everyone else when we are out in the world, then we have failed. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:22)

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48). Holy God sacrificed His only begotten, sinless son to die a horrible death to spare us from eternal death and to give us eternal life. Do you think we have been given much?

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38). I believe that the world we live in is being divided into good and evil and there is no fence to sit on. I believe that God is calling us to take a stand, to be bold about our faith, regardless of political correctness and consequences. I refuse to allow the world around me to dictate how my faith is shared. God is not amused. As far as I am concerned, He is the only one I care about trying to please. If these sound like strong words, mission accomplished. God never intended for His people to be soft or hidden. He called us to be strong, visible, and bold.

The Bible is not a buffet. We don’t' get to pick our favorite parts. We can't choose to pray because it's easy and choose not to share Christ with others because it's not. I believe that God wants us, as Christ-followers, to step up our game and to DO what His Word says and not only hear what it says. This is up to us. He will not make us do anything. We think we are waiting on Him, but He is waiting on us!

Psalms 96:3 says "Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples". This is what I want us, as the body of Christ, to get excited about! I think we are relying on pastors and preachers to do our job. Where in the Bible does it say that preachers are in charge of spreading the gospel? This is our job and if we are not careful, people may be going to hell around us while we are hiding in our closet. Let's be bold in our faith and plant seeds that will bring others to Christ in Jesus Name!

02.06.2016 - To Fleece Or Not To Fleece?
We need to be very careful when it comes to putting "fleeces" before the Lord. Generally speaking, signs don’t precede our steps of faith; signs follow.

The concept of "putting out a fleece" comes from the story of Gideon, a leader in Israel, in Judges 6. When God directed him to gather the Israelite troops to defeat the Midianite invaders, Gideon wanted to be sure it was really God’s voice he was hearing and that he understood His directions. He asked God for a sign to prove that this was truly His will. So he put out a piece of wool overnight and asked God to make it wet while keeping the surrounding dirt dry. God graciously did as Gideon asked, and in the morning the fleece was wet enough to produce a bowl of water when it was wrung out.

But Gideon’s faith was so weak that he asked God for another sign—this time to keep another fleece dry while making the surrounding dirt wet. Again, God complied, and Gideon was finally convinced that God meant what He said and that the nation of Israel would have the victory the angel of the Lord had promised in Judges 6:14-16. Putting out the fleeces was the second time Gideon had asked for a sign that God was really talking to him and would do what He said He would.

There are several lessons for us in Gideon’s story. First, God is incredibly gracious and patient with us, especially when our faith is weak. Gideon knew he was treading on dangerous ground and was trying God’s patience by asking for multiple signs. After the first fleece sign, he said, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make one more request” (Judges 6:39). But our God is a merciful, loving and patient God who knows our weaknesses. However, the story of Gideon should be for our instruction and not serve as a model for our own behavior. Jesus said on two occasions that “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign” (Matthew 12:39; 16:1-4). His point was that the signs He had already given them—His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, healings, and miracles—were sufficient for them to respond to the truth, if truth was what they were seeking. Clearly, it was not.

Another lesson of Gideon’s fleeces is that those asking for signs are exhibiting a weak and immature faith that won’t be convinced by the signs anyway! Gideon had received more than enough information without the sign of the fleeces. God had told him he would have victory (v. 14), and He had responded to a previous request for a sign with a miraculous display of power in fire (v. 16). Still, Gideon asked for two more signs because of his own insecurity. In the same way, even when God does provide the sign we ask for, it doesn’t give us what we crave because our wavering faith still doubts. That often leads us to ask for multiple signs, none of which give us the assurance we need, because the problem isn’t with God’s power; it’s with our own perception of it.

A problem with following Gideon’s example of fleece-setting is that it does not take into account that our situation and his are really not comparable. As Christians, we have two powerful tools that Gideon lacked. First, we have the complete Word of God which we know is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God has assured us that His Word is all we need to be “thoroughly equipped” for anything and everything in life. We do not need experiential proof (signs, voices, miracles) to verify what He has already told us in His Word. Our second advantage over Gideon is that every Christian has the Holy Spirit, who is God Himself, residing in his heart to guide, direct, and encourage. Prior to Pentecost, believers had the Old Testament only and were directed externally by God’s providential hand. Now we have His complete Bible and His indwelling presence in our hearts.

Rather than seeking signs via fleeces, we should be content to know God’s will for us in every situation every day: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16); “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18); “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). If these things characterize our lives, the decisions we make will be in accordance with God’s will, He will bless us immeasurably with His peace and assurance, and there will be no need to put out fleeces or ask for signs.

If God has already answered your question in Scripture, then you don’t need to even ask it. Don’t seek revelation when God has already given it.

Second, check your motives to make sure they aren't selfish. The fleece must come out of a genuine desire to honor God and do His will.

Third, you have to be willing to accept whatever answer you receive without second-guessing it. "I will be with you." That's all we need to know, isn't it? If we could come to grips with two fundamental truths, they would transform our lives: God is with us, and God is for us. That is all you ever need to know. God is with you, and God is for you. Let it sink into your spirit. And as Romans 8:31 states, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

This is one of the great secrets in connection with successful service for the Lord; to work, as if everything depended upon our diligence, and yet not to rest in upon our exertions, but upon the blessing of the Lord. The key to kingdom productivity is this: work really hard at what God has called you to do, but do not trust in your work; trust in God.

Don’t seek answers; seek God. And the answers will seek you. When God gives a vision, He always makes provision.

References: gotquestions.org, Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson

02.05.2016 - God's Voice
I awoke this morning and in my spirit I prayed "I pray for your voice in my life". It is so amazing to me how the Holy Spirit works. It was actually the Holy Spirit that I heard say these words. It was as if I was watching the words as they were being said. When "listening" to the Holy Spirit, no physical ears are required as there is typically no audible sound. This type of listening is so fascinating to me. It seems more dynamic, more fluid, more substantial, yet lighter, and uninhibited by any physical barrier. It's not the "ask a question, get a response" type of communication. The questions, answers, acceptance, guidance, and revelation all seem to happen simultaneously and instantaneously. Within what was literally a span of no more than 2 seconds, I heard the Holy Spirit speak, felt the power, saw the words as if they were a touchable thing, and was given an understanding of what was being communicated. It was as if I was witnessing the birth of my own words being created in my spirit. At the same moment, I knew this was the Holy Spirit speaking and injecting this thought and these words directly into my spirit.

How wonderful and mysterious are His ways! I was intending to write about "God's voice" having heard "I pray for your voice in my life". I found myself writing about how I heard this instead. As I read what I had written I started to wonder if I had gotten off track and then realized that I was actually writing about God's voice!

There is a lot I don't know, but here is one thing I am absolutely certain of that everyone should know. You want the Holy Spirit's voice in your life. God wants us to desire Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him, and He wants to speak to us and through us.

Father, I pray in the name of Jesus for your voice to be active in our lives. Holy Spirit, please open our hearts to be sensitive to your Spirit and speak to us every day. We desire your voice in our lives in Jesus Name.

02.04.2016 - Hallelujah
The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that there is significance in the word "Hallelujah" so I want to explore this today.

The English word Hallelujah is a Hebrew "lone" word which means that it came to us from biblical Hebrew and has been absorbed in the exact same form in modern speech. An hallelujah is not only a lone word but is also a compound word as it is made up of 2 Hebrew words "Hallelu" and "jah". Literally, "Hallelu" is an exhortation to praise someone or something addressed to more than one person. The old English translation of "Praise, ye" is therefore accurate. "Jah" is the English transliteration of the covenant name of Israel's God. Because of the belief that this name is too holy to be pronounced at all, nor does anyone know how to pronounce it correctly since the original Hebrew did not use vowels, most translators both Jewish and Christian decided to simply use the word "Lord" instead, which is the translation of another Hebrew name for God, "Adonai".

So now we know that Hallelujah means "Praise the Lord", something I believe that we should do more and say more often. I remember when I heard a person say "Praise the Lord" in a non-church setting for the first time. I actually remember who said it and where I was when they said it. It had that kind of impact on me!

There is something very powerful in praising God and I believe there is something very special about doing it out in the open. When God blesses you or things go your way, say "Praise the Lord!". This will be a witness to some and a caution to others. This is a win-win-win. You will be lifting up the Lord, calling His name, and planting a seed all at the same time!

I pray that God will bless you and give you opportunities to say "Praise the Lord" very soon in Jesus Name.

02.03.2016 - Trust God
In Hebrews 11:8 the Bible tells us "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." This is the perfect picture of faith. Abraham did not rely on his own reasoning. He did not question God. He did not know where God was leading him. He did not know the plan but he didn't need to know. All he needed to know was that God is God and He is faithful. He trusted God's plan more than he trusted himself. This is the place where God wants us to be. We need to rely on God's strength more than our own. We need to follow God's lead and walk through the doors He opens for us with total confidence and unwavering faith because He has a plan and it is always good.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." The phrase "I'll believe that when I see it" won't cut it. If you have to see to believe then you are not exercising faith you are relying on sight which cannot see the unseen. Faith may require you to go in an unexpected direction or take an action you don't understand. If you know God is leading you, do not let fear, nor your mind, nor anyone, nor anything convince you to go in any other direction. You will always be glad you followed the Holy Spirit. You will always regret when you don't. Always.

And don't be concerned about being ready. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. Don’t wait for more revelation, be obedient to the amount of revelation God has given you. Our failure to act on what we know God is calling us to do not only breeds doubt and discouragement, but it's a form of disobedience.

Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus said "Go." So why do we operate with this red-light mentality? Why are we waiting for the green light we've already been given? As Christ-followers, we are called to take a why not approach to life. It's an approach that's bent toward action. And it doesn’t look for excuses not to do something.

But I wonder if we're so afraid of doing the wrong thing that it keeps us from doing the right thing.

But who can calculate the opportunity costs when we ignore the promptings of the Spirit, thereby missing divine appointments? Faith is not faith until it is acted on.

If you are looking for excuses, you will always find one. If God has told you to do something and you are hesitating, do it. If God is leading you in a direction but you are afraid, remember that God only gives good gifts. He wants to prosper you and not to harm you. It may seem hard. People may not understand at first, but God is faithful.

Father, I sense that there are those reading this that may be struggling with fear about something you have called them to do. I bind all fear in the Name of Jesus and pray that your Holy Spirit will touch them and encourage them to trust you, and that they will act on faith, and that your established plan will come to fruition in their lives in Jesus Name!

02.02.2016 - "I will" prayers
The Holy Spirit has shown me a couple of things recently that I am very excited about and I want to share them with you today. One is that He is faithful. Always. Every day. He has shown me that He will provide the portion that we need for each new day. His grace is sufficient. You can count on Him. He is always faithful. He will pour out His spirit like rain if you will just fall in love with Him. Make Him your heart's desire. He answers my daily prayers every day. He gives me something new to write every day. At one point I was trying to write several blogs a day to try to get ahead but the Holy Spirit showed me that this was not His way. Part of why He has me doing this is to teach me how to be faithful every day. He is also showing me that He is faithful every day.

Just now, as I was praying before I started writing, without a clue as to what I would write about but knowing that the Holy Spirit would show up as He does every day, He spoke as I was praying over my prayer list. As I got to my "please" prayers, The Holy Spirit started changing the words. He said, pray in a "Declarative Language". That's exactly how I saw the words as He spoke them. He wants us to ask, but He also wants us to commit, to act, to be faithful, to act faithfully, and to be bold, active participants in our prayers! Praying is not a spectator sport! He wants us to pray "please" prayers but He also wants us to pray "I will" prayers.

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about. I was praying

Please deliver us from and make us strong against temptation…I am delivered and will fight against temptation! Whoa! This is powerful.

Please place a hedge of protection around us and send your protective angels to watch over us…We are protected!

Please give us the fruit of the Spirit…I have and will operate in the fruit of the Spirit!

Please allow us to have a closer, more intimate walk with you...I will work to have a closer, more intimate walk with you!

Please guide us, lead us, and direct us…I will follow your lead for I am led by your Spirit!

Please give us strength and grace for the journey…I am strong and live in your grace!

Please give us opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better…I will seek more opportunities to serve you and I have the mind of Christ!

Please give us endurance for the day…I will endure!

Please help us to have a productive day…I will be productive today in Jesus Name!

Please help me to be a better believer, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, leader, teacher, writer, friend, employee, and person…I will be a better believer, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, leader, teacher, writer, friend, employee, and person!

Please keep falsehood and lies far from us…I will keep my distance from falsehood and lies.

Please help us to be good examples of Christ to others...I will be a good example of Christ to others!

Please bless us spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and financially… I am blessed spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and financially

Do you see the difference? Do you feel the Holy Spirit in this? He wants us to lift our voice, raise our sword, and tap into the power of Jesus inside of us. He wants us to use Declarative Language according to His will and ACT on our faith. Maybe our prayers should be more committing and less asking. Nothing wrong with saying please, but sometimes we must take charge! The Bible tells us to be strong in the Lord, so let's be strong!

Lord, for those reading this, please speak to their spirit and ignite a fire in them to begin to declare your Word, to claim the victory that you have established for us, and to be strong for your kingdom in the name and through the blood of Jesus!

02.01.2016 - Forever Prayers
In yesterday's blog I quoted 2 Corinthians 4:18 which says: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Let's use this as a litmus test and consider the prayers we pray for a moment. Are our prayers temporary or eternal? The answer is clear, we cannot see prayers, so they must be eternal!

This was revelatory to me. I usually think of prayers in terms of the here and now. "God, please help me and my family today. God, please give me opportunities to serve today". While I know that God honors these "today" prayers, I think that we must begin to consider that we serve an eternal God who can answer prayers long after we are gone! Let's not limit our prayers to today prayers. I have heard and said "there is power in prayer" many times, however, I am beginning to wonder if we truly understand how impactful, far reaching, and truly powerful prayers really are. Our prayers don’t die when we do. God answers them forever!

Never underestimate God's ability to answer anytime, anyplace, anyhow. He has infinite answers to our finite prayers. He can answer them more than once and He answers them forever. Like a parent who collects their children's elementary artwork and displays it prominently on a refrigerator door, our heavenly Father loves our prayers. Each one is a keepsake. Each one functions like a memorial that jogs the memory of the Almighty.

From the book Drawing the Circle, Mark Batterson talks about how his grandfather had a prayer ritual that involved kneeling next to his bed at night, taking out his hearing aid, and praying for his family. He couldn’t hear himself without his hearing aid, but everyone else in the house could. Few things leave a more lasting impression than hearing someone intercede for you by name. He goes on to say that at critical points in his life, the Spirit of God whispered to his spirit: Mark, the prayers of your grandfather are being answered in your life right now. He says that those sacred moments rank as the most humbling and exhilarating moments of his life. All I can say is WOW!!!

While on the subject of hearing someone intercede for you by name, pray for your kids. Not just in your quiet time. If they are sick, say "I want to pray for you" and then lay your hands on them and ask God to heal them and call them by name. If they have a presentation to give, lay your hands on them and ask God to give them confidence and clear speech and call them by name. If they are hurting, lay your hands on them and asked God to give them comfort and call them by name. You get the idea. This is a powerful tool that God honors and reinforces the power of prayer in your children's lives.

I believe that the seeds of prayer that we plant today have the power to be harvested for decades, centuries, millennia, eternity. I also believe that we are harvesting the prayers of those that have prayed for us long ago. We are not a once and done. Our faith and our prayers make a difference today and forever.

Father, thank you for the revelation that our prayers are eternal. Please equip us to begin praying faithful, forever prayers and honor our prayers for eternity in Jesus Name.

01.31.2016 - Jars of Clay
In thinking about what to write next I heard the Holy Spirit say "Jars of Clay" so I am excited to learn more about what this actually means and to share it with you today.

The phrase "Jars of Clay" comes from 2 Corinthians 4:7 which says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.". After reading this and praying that the Holy Spirit would reveal to me the meaning of this scripture, He prompted me to read the verses preceding verse 7. Reading verse 6 along with verse 7 gives us a much clearer picture of the purpose of Jars of Clay.

(6) "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness', made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Wow! It was right there in front of me the whole time. God's light and the knowledge of his glory live in our heart through the acceptance of His Son Jesus. We are the jar and Christ is the treasure. Christ was put into a breakable, temporary vessel to show that the power comes from God and not from us, the vessel itself.

I see an image of a clay jar with missing pieces and God's light shining through every opening as if the jar is about to explode from the light within. We don't have to be perfect for the light of Christ to shine through us. God knows that we are not perfect. This is why He sent His Son. God uses our brokenness and fills every hole with His light! Allow Him to meet you where you are and to shine through you just as you are.

Clay jars were created by skilled potters just as God created us. These jars were shaped, molded, and baked until hard. They were painted, glazed, or decorated for whatever purpose the potter had in mind. Praise God! Just as jars were created by a craftsman with a specific purpose in mind, so were we.

In ancient times, sacred scrolls or valuable documents were rolled up and placed inside a jar of clay and then hidden for safe keeping. The Dead Sea Scrolls were kept in such jars of clay. Pottery jars could be beautiful or purely functional, but they had one thing in common: they were breakable. Contents could not be forever housed in jars of clay. Clay jars were temporary holding places. Thank God that our jars are temporal but the treasure inside is eternal! "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18).

I pray for everyone reading this that you will surrender to God, allowing Him to shape you and mold you into the vessel that He has designed you to be. And even if you are broken, I pray that you will know that He can use you just as you are for His glory in Jesus Name.

01.30.2016 - I am Redeemed
Lately I have been playing the song I am Redeemed, by Big Daddy Weave over and over again. I am actually listening to it right now. The lyrics of this song, the truth in its message, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit is so strong on this song that I felt led to share it. The words resonate in my spirit every time I hear it. I think this is my story. In fact, this is the story of every sinner who has given their heart to Jesus. I hope that this is your story too.

I cannot think of any one thing more exciting than being redeemed. We are no longer under the curse of the law. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are free! We can shake off the heavy chains, wipe away every stain, we are not who we used to be. We are redeemed! We are no longer unworthy. We are children of God. This is something to get excited about people!!!

The old man is passed away and we are new creations in Christ. The battle is already won. God has cleansed us of our filth through the blood of Jesus. He loved us enough to send His only Son. If He would do that, what good gift would He withhold?

Get excited about being redeemed today. It's something to be excited about. And if you get the chance, listen to the song. I pray that it will be a blessing to you as it has to me.

01.29.2016 - Defense
The Holy Spirit impressed upon me the importance of a spiritual "Defense". So many times I think we focus on the obvious stuff we know we should be doing; praying, reading the Bible, praising, worshiping, and studying. All absolutely vital to a healthy spiritual life. What I think may sometimes be forgotten is that we also have defensive spiritual weapons at our disposal. Namely, resisting the devil. I believe it is important that we fight spiritual battles with both a strong offense and a strong defense.

James 4:7 says "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

I ran across an article entitled 10 Ways To Resist The Devil which was so inspired that I wanted to share it with you today. Lord, please speak to the hearts of those reading this and impress upon them the importance of submitting to you and resisting the devil in Jesus Name.

1. Be Ruled by the Word. Make the Word of God your rule and authority and live in obedience to all it says. It will keep you walking straight and guard you from all manner of temptation. “When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure.”

2. Beware of Grieving the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives the Christian the ability to discern Satan’s temptations and to see his hand in and behind life’s circumstances. If you grieve the Spirit, you drive off the one whose ministry involves guarding you against Satan’s attacks.

3. Labor for Wisdom. There is a great difference between knowledge and wisdom, between accumulating facts and applying Scripture to those facts so they become wisdom. It is not the Christian with the most knowledge, but the Christian with the most wisdom, who is equipped to battle Satan’s temptations.

4. Resist the First Stirring of Temptation. It is safe to resist temptation and dangerous to dabble in it. “He that will play with Satan’s bait, will quickly be taken with Satan’s hook.” God promises that we can resist temptation, not that we can resist sin once we have begun to dabble in that temptation.

5. Labor to Be Filled With the Spirit. The Spirit is a Spirit of light and power. The Spirit’s light shines bright against the darkness of sin and his power is sufficient to overcome all evil and temptation. When it comes to fighting Satan’s temptations, it is better to have a heart filled with the Spirit than a head filled with facts.

6. Keep Humble. A humble heart would rather lie in the dust than rise to prominence by sinful means; it would prefer to lose everything than to sin and be left with a guilty conscience. The humble person is neither drawn in by what Satan offers, nor terrified by his threats.

7. Be Constantly on Guard. A secure soul is a soul in a position to be led astray and ensnared. “That soul that will not watch against temptations, will certainly fall before the power of temptations.” Satan strengthens his assaults when the soul grows drowsy and careless. So be constantly on guard. “Watchfulness is nothing else but the soul running up and down, to and fro, busy everywhere; it is the heart busied and employed with diligent observation of what comes from within us, and of what comes from without us and into us.”

8. Continue Communing With God. It is as you join in communion with God that he gives you strength to resist Satan’s attacks. “A soul high in communion with God may be tempted, but will not easily be conquered. Such a soul will fight it out to the death.” Take full advantage of God’s means of grace.

9. Do Not Engage Satan In Your Own Strength. You need to draw the power, and even the desire, to resist sin from Jesus Christ and you need to do this every day. “Certainly that soul that engages against any old or new temptation without new strength, new influences from on high, will fall before the power of new temptation.” Commune with God, be on guard, be humble—do all of these things! But do not rely on them in the battle; instead, rely on Christ.

10. Pray Constantly. “Prayer is a shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge to the devil.” So pray and pray constantly. Tell God of your own inability to detect and respond to temptation; tell him that you are utterly dependent upon his grace; tell God that Christ’s blood has been applied to you; tell God that you are his child; ask God to deliver you from temptation for the glory of his name.

01.28.2016 - Contend for Me
Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you. The Holy Spirit is interceding for us with groans that cannot be uttered. Long before we woke up this morning and long after we go to sleep tonight, the Holy Spirit was and is covering us in prayer. And if that doesn’t infuse us with holy confidence, I don’t know what will. But it isn't just the Holy Spirit who is interceding for us; the Son of God is interceding for us as well. They are interceding for the will of God to be accomplished in our lives. We are double covered. They are covering us all the time with songs of deliverance.

When determining whether to respond to criticism, I try to discern the spirit of the person doing the criticizing. Is their purpose redemptive or vindictive? And I put the criticism through the filter of Scripture. If it passes through the filter, then I need to repent. If it doesn’t, then I don’t let it pierce my heart. And I let God defend and contend on my behalf.

There are some battlefields I'm willing to die on, but there are some I'm not willing to die on. I won't engage in the combat of criticism. It is sideways energy, and it doesn’t have a redemptive purpose. I overlook the offense so I can keep playing offense.

Our prayers don’t have expiration dates. That’s why I believe this prayer (referring to the first recorded prayer by the founding fathers) is still being answered 238 years later.

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." ~Abraham Lincoln

God will fight for you as you fight for Him. And you can live with holy confidence, knowing that when God is contending for your cause, your cause is destined to succeed. This doesn’t mean there won't be setbacks and sacrifices along the way; it just means the war has already been won. Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you.

01.27.2016 - Spiritual Eyes
In a recent blog we explored the significance of discernment. A couple of nights ago, I found myself in one of those moments where I heard a voice and needed to determine whether to reject or accept it.

What was different about this experience was that I could see an image of the speaker. What I saw was very interesting. To my surprise, I saw myself but it was as if I was superimposed on a green screen or possibly seeing a reflection of myself. It was like a scene from a movie where a real person meets their clone. The real person knows immediately that they are looking at an imposter. I could clearly see that the image I saw of myself was not the real me but an imitation. I knew immediately that the Holy Spirit was revealing to me a tactic of the devil. The devil was trying to disguise himself as me in order to trick me into thinking that the thought was coming from me and that I should consider it.

Think about this for a second. If the devil spoke in a demonic, gravely, evil voice, we would reject it immediately. Rather, he attempts to get us to think thoughts he wants us to dwell on by disguising his voice as our own.

I have been praying for discernment and believe that this is evidence that God is answering this prayer. It was as if I was able to see the deception through God's eyes. The deception was no more convincing than a child running around in a sheet with holes cut out for eyes saying "Boo", pretending to be a ghost. It was as if I had put on spiritual glasses for the first time and could truly see things for what they are.

I am telling you this story for a couple of reasons. One, I want to stress the power of prayer. God answered this prayer for me and I know he will for you as well. Secondly, I want to encourage you to pray for discernment (spiritual eyes) so that you will be able to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1) in order to follow the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that everyone reading this will be blessed with the gift of discernment to the glory of God in Jesus Name.

01.26.2016 - Speak to the Mountain
"Say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move." (Matthew 17:20)

There comes a time when you must quit talking to God about the mountain in your life and start talking to the mountain about your God. The Bible doesn't tell us to pray that the mountain will move, it tells us to "speak" to it. To command it. Begin speaking to the mountains in your life in Jesus Name!

Maybe we need to quit letting our circumstances get between us and God and let God get between us and our circumstances. Maybe we need to stop talking to God about our problem and start taking to our problem about God.

We are not conquerors; we are more than conquerors through Christ. We don’t have to be afraid of the enemy's attacks. These attacks are counterproductive when we counteract them with prayer. The more opposition we experience, the harder we have to pray. And the harder we have to pray, the more miracles God does. Quit talking to God about your problem and start talking to your problem about God.

01.25.2016 - One Day
"One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision…" (Acts 10:3)

Pastor Bill taught this week on Sowing and Reaping and we learned that: "We always reap WHAT we sow, we always reap MORE than we sow, and we always reap LATER than we sow". When you plant a tomato seed, you get a tomato plant. If you plant peace, you get peace. If you plant discord, you reap discord. What you plant is small, what you reap is much greater. Also, seeds don't become trees overnight. "You always reap later than you sow". So if we are going to experience a miracle one day, we need to pray every day.

Too many people pray like they are playing the lottery when prayer is more like an investment account. Every deposit accumulates compound interest. And one day, if we keep making deposits every day, it will pay dividends beyond our wildest imagination. Have vision beyond your resources, dream irrational dreams, and refuse to let your budget determine your vision. That would be poor stewardship because it's based on our limited resources rather than on God's unlimited supply.

Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Letting your budget determine your vision is backward. Faith is letting your vision determine your budget. And if your vision is God-given, it will most definitely be beyond your resources. Why? Because then God will get all the glory! And I promise you this: the God who gives the vision is the same God who makes provision.

God listens more to our hearts than our words. And what God loves more than anything else is childlike faith.

God is bigger than our problem, bigger than our mistake, bigger than our dream.

"God, how long is a million years to you?" God said, "A million years is like a second." Then the man asked, "How much is a million dollars to you?" God said, "A million dollars is like a penny." The man smiled and said, "Could you spare a penny?" God smiled back and said, "Sure, just wait a second."

God can accomplish more in one day than you can accomplish in a lifetime.

01.24.2016 - Sow a Seed
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

The giant sequoia was once a seed. And that sequoia seed is no bigger than the seed that produces a tomato plant!

Honi ha-M'agel is a Jewish scholar known as the Circle Maker. Read about him in a book by Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. Honi saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi questioned him. "How long will it take this tree to bear fruit?" The man replied, "Seventy years." Honi said, "are you quite sure you will live another seventy years to eat its fruit?" The man replied, "Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees."

This incident led to an insight that changed the way Honi prayed. In a moment of revelation, the circle maker realized that praying is planting. Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations. In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever. Even when we die, our prayers don’t. Each prayer takes on a life, an eternal life, of its own.

If you sow kindness, you will reap kindness.
If you sow generosity, you will reap generosity.
If you sow love, you will reap love.

All of us go through times of spiritual, relational, or financial famines. It seems like the harvest will never come. And the temptation is to stop planting, but my advice is simple: sow a seed. Keep praying, keep obeying, keep giving, keep loving, keep serving. And if you keep sowing the right seeds, the harvest of blessing will come in God's time, in God's way.

If we do the little things like they are big things, then God will do the big things like they are little things.

01.23.2016 - Crazy Faith
Jesus honored the prostitute who crashed a party at a Pharisee's home to anoint His feet. Jesus honored the tax collector who climbed a tree in his three-piece suit just to get a glimpse of Him. Jesus honored the four friends who cut in line and cut a hole in someone's ceiling to help their friend. And Jesus honored the crazy woman who drove a judge crazy because she wouldn’t stop knocking.

The common denominator in each of these stories is crazy faith. People took desperate measures to get to God, and God honored them for it. Nothing has changed. God is still honoring spiritual desperadoes who crash parties and climb trees. God is still honoring those who defy protocol with their bold prayers. God is still honoring those who pray with audacity and tenacity.

The viability of our prayers has more to do with intensity than vocabulary. It has more to do with what we do than what we say. Don’t just pray about it; act on it.

Maybe our normal is so subnormal that normal seems abnormal. Maybe we need a new normal. Bold prayers and big dreams are normal. Anything less is subnormal. And when bold prayers become the norm, so do the miraculous breakthroughs that follow.

There is a pattern repeated in Scripture: crazy miracles are the offspring of crazy faith. Normal begets normal. Crazy begets crazy. If we want to see God do crazy miracles, we need to pray crazy prayers.

Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.

01.22.2016 - Thought Captor
"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5)

This verse is not just about capturing sinful thoughts and getting them out of our minds; it's also about capturing creative thoughts and keeping them in our minds.

One of the best ways to capture thoughts is a prayer journal. The second half is making it obedient to Christ -- and that requires blood, sweat, and tears.

Nolan Bushnell, the creator of the Atari video game system, once stated, "Everyone who's ever taken a shower has had an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference."

Never underestimate the power of a single prayer or a single idea.

01.21.2016 - God Ideas
Something my mother taught me that I have never forgotten is that there are 3 types of people; those that talk about other people, those that talk about money, and those that talk about ideas. She went on to say that these make up the 3 classes of people. Low class people talk about other people, middle class people talk about money, and high class people talk about ideas. While there is not a single scripture that puts it quite this way, I can think of several that support this concept.

The good news is that one God-idea is worth more than a thousand good ideas. Good ideas are good, but only God-ideas change the course of history. So how do we get God ideas? Here's a tip: God-ideas are only revealed in the presence of God. Don’t just brainstorm, praystorm! Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do. And that's a big difference!

Remember, one God-idea is worth more than a thousand good ideas. Have the shameless audacity to ask Him for ideas and watch what happens…

01.20.2016 - Shameless Audacity
God won't answers 100 percent of the prayers we don't pray. The Bible tells us in Luke 11:8: "...yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need." Think of it this way. When you pray, it's not your name at stake. When we act in faith, we aren't risking our reputation; we are risking God's reputation because He's the one who made the promise in the first place. But if we aren't willing to risk our reputation, we'll never establish God's reputation.

Why do we mistakenly think that God is offended by our prayers for the impossible? The truth is that God is offended by anything less! God is offended when we ask Him to do things we can do ourselves. It's the impossible prayers that honor God because they reveal our faith and allow God to reveal His glory.

...The request is not granted simply because of repeated requests. Prayer is answered to preserve God's good name. After all, it's not our reputation that is on the line; it's His reputation. So God doesn't answer prayer just to give us what we want; God answers prayer to bring glory to His name.

The beauty of obedience is this: it relieves us of responsibility. It takes all the pressure off of us and places it squarely on God's sovereign shoulders. When we give God the tithe, for example, our finances are no longer our responsibility; they become God's responsibility.

Sometimes we're afraid of praying for miracles because we're afraid that God won't answer, but the answer isn't up to us. We never know if the answer will be yes, no, or not yet. But the answer isn't up to us. It's not our job to answer; it's our job to ask. And Jesus exhorts us to ask. "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered simply because they go unasked.

Ask in shameless audacity and expect results with unwavering faith.

Reference: Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson.

01.19.2016 - Praying Through
Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them. I'm certainly not suggesting we shouldn't pray deliverance prayers, but there are times we need to pray prevailing prayers. We need to ask God to give us the grace to sustain, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on.

There is a big difference between praying away and praying through. We're often so anxious to get out of difficult, painful, or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. We're so fixated on getting out of them that we don't get anything out of them. We fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to grow in us. We're so focused on God changing our circumstances that we never allow God to change us! So instead of ten or twenty years of experience, we have one year of experience repeated ten or twenty times.

Sometimes we need to pray "get me out" prayers. But sometimes we need to pray "get me through" prayers. And we need the discernment to know when to pray what.

The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circumstances; the primary purpose of prayer is to change us! But either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation.

Sometimes God delivers us from our problems; sometimes God delivers us through our problems.

Reference: Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson

01.18.2016 - Privilege
Earlier today the topic of "being privileged" came up in conversation with one of Carley's friends. This was being discussed in the context of very wealthy people. I made the comment that I was "not privileged". Later when I was alone driving down the road the Holy Spirit convicted me for saying this and reminded me of just how incredibly privileged I am. I asked for forgiveness and realized that we should never take the privileges that God has given us for granted.

Before Jesus lived a sinless life and died on a cross as a blood sacrifice to redeem us from our sin, people traveled to visit the high priest once a year where he alone entered the inner room and made a blood sacrifice and offerings for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9:7). After Jesus' death and the atonement for our sin we no longer need a man to be our mediator to go before God. A permanent blood sacrifice has been made. We can go to the Father ourselves in the name of Jesus! I can think of no greater privilege.

Father, help us to be ever mindful of the awesome privilege we have to come before your throne as a result of the ultimate sacrifice and price that was paid on the cross for us through the blood of your son Jesus.

01.17.2016 - Established by God
As humans, in our hearts, we plan our course, but the Lord establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9). God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time, but it's up to us to see and seize those opportunities that are all around us all the time. God wants us to get where God wants us to go more than we want to get where God wants us to go and He is awfully good at getting us there. All we have to do is follow the script of Holy Scripture and the improvisation of the Holy Spirit. We can't create divine appointments. All we can do is keep them. We can't perform miracles. All we can do is pray for them. Our job is to hear His voice. His job is to establish our steps. And if we do our job, God will do His! God is the Composer. Our lives are His musical score. God is the Artist. Our lives are His canvas. God is the Architect. Our lives are His blueprint. God is the Writer. We are His book.
01.16.2016 - God's Glory
Here on earth I believe that we mostly live in God's grace and sometimes are able to get a glimpse of His glory, but how sweet are those times! Today I want to reignite our passion to dwell in the presence and glory of God.

I realize that some of what I am about to share may seem a little bit out there. If I hadn't experienced this myself, I would probably say the same thing, but please bear with me as what I am going to share is the truth.

Over the years, I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit many times. In my experience, it feels like a washing over of my entire body with a feeling of euphoria. I have heard it described as "waves". There is a tremendous sense of peace and wisdom that comes while being in His presence. In these moments, I feel that I am being filled by the Holy Spirit and that His Spirit is indwelling me. It is a joy that is difficult to explain. It is a connection with Him that is undeniable and very real. I feel the Holy Spirit right now as I write this which makes this easier to describe. I am sharing this because this is happening every day now and it hasn’t always. There were weeks or months or possibly longer when I longed to feel His presence but did not. I prayed about it periodically without much change. All I know to tell you is that I am seeking Him every day and He shows up every day. I realized that I was praying about taking action instead of taking action. Seeking is our job! If you are not experiencing this type of connection with the Holy Spirit, I am here to tell you that you can. God is no respecter of persons. He wants to have a relationship with those that are willing to seek Him.

God's glory requires His presence so it follows that you must first be in His presence to experience His glory. There have been times when I felt His presence so strongly that I believe I was experiencing His glory. It is a marvelous and wondrous thing. If someone offered me 1 trillion dollars or said you can experience God's glory every day I would turn the money down flat. Seriously. There is nothing greater on earth or in heaven.

There have been a handful of times, maybe 3 or 4 in my lifetime where I actually believe that I smelled the fragrance of God's anointing. This is the part that I know sounds a little crazy but I am telling you this happened. I have always experienced this in a large gathering of people, always during a praise service, and once during a Christian concert. The first few times, I remember thinking, Wow, that smells incredible, someone must have sprayed on perfume. It took a couple of times before I realized that it was the same fragrance and no one was putting on perfume in the middle of a church service. I know now that this is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

I share that to convey that I believe that we may only be experiencing drops of water of God's glory in comparison to the oceans of His glory that He wants to share with us. After I wrote this I was looking at scripture on glory and found this in Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea." and the Bible tells us that if we believe that we will see the glory of God. Wow! Praise the Lord!

Psalm 72:19 "Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen."

01.15.2016 - The Great Orchestrator
3:00am wakeup call (3:32am on this particular day, I looked at the clock) The Lord showed me the most glorious vision. This may be tough to describe but I will try.

I saw an orchestra leader with baton in hand but it was not a person, it was the image of a man, round head, neck, shoulders, arms legs, but no distinguishing features. No eyes, nose, mouth. The entire figure I could only see from the side and it was entirely made up of a yellow light. It was not so bright that I could not look upon it, but rather, easy to see. The figure floated in air effortlessly and swayed back and forth and moved in the air in unexpected ways as if to the sounds of the music as it directed with its baton. It was as if it was directing a band but it was somehow different. It was directing a light that was moving in a sideways figure eight and then in varying circles around the figure. The Lord spoke the word "Harmonic". There was a connection between the sight and the sound and they were somehow one.

I could tell that the relationship between the figure was not a leader/follower relationship, it was more connected. The light did not wait on the figure and the figure did not wait on the light, they moved as one and were one and the same. The Lord impressed upon me that this was how His spirit worked. The past, the present, the future, situations, faith, prayers, circumstances, and people did not stand on their own but were all connected. He showed me that this was constant and never changing and that this is something that is set into motion and consistent with His Word. I had always thought of God's omnipresence as Him being in more than one place at one time but now I am seeing that, as hard as this is for us to comprehend, He just IS. He doesn’t have to come be where we are, He is already where we are and already where we are going to be. His spirit surrounds us all. This reminds me of my favorite Psalm 139, (paraphrasing) He hems us in behind and before… there is no place we can go to escape the presence of God.

He showed me that the sideways figure eight pattern represented infinity and that this force is real. This was a magnificent and glorious sight. I felt that I had just actually seen the presence of God. I fell back asleep thinking on these things and when I awoke the Lord said "The Great Orchestrator" and I knew that He was describing Himself.

God has designed you as an instrument to play in His symphony. Seek God daily in the way that He can use you as an instrument for His glory in His symphony and then play it with everything you've got!

01.14.2016 - Opportunities
When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis. God is always preparing us and positioning us for divine appointments. The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.

If you establish a prayer routine, your life will be anything but routine. You will go places, do things, and meet people you have no business going to, doing, or meeting. You don’t need to seek opportunity. All you have to do is seek God. And if you seek God, opportunity will seek you!

And don’t worry about meeting the right people. If you meet with God, God will make sure you meet the right people at the right time. After all, there is nobody He doesn’t know.

Don’t try to manufacture your own miracles. Don’t try to answer your own prayers. Don’t try to do God's job for Him. Stay humble. Stay patient. Stay focused. Stay faithful. Trust in Him, He is faithful, and He will provide the opportunities.

My prayer for you today is that you will surrender to God and that opportunities will find you in Jesus name.

01.13.2016 - The Names of God
In the Old Testament, a name was not only an identification, but an identity as well. Many times a special meaning was attached to the name. Names had, among other purposes, an explanatory purpose (e.g., Nabal, whose name means "fool," is the target of Abigail's explanation to David: "For as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him:" - (1 Samuel 25:25). Throughout Scripture God reveals Himself to us through His names. When we study these names that He reveals to us in the Bible, we gain a better understanding of who God really is. The meanings behind God's names reveal the central personality and nature of the One who bears them.

Below are the Names of God listed in the Old Testament. I found power in just reading this list aloud. Also, there is a very anointed worship song on YouTube which sets these names to music.

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Elohim (God)
Qanna (Jealous)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

Who is God to you?
Is He your Most High God, All sufficient One, Master, Lord of Peace, the Lord Who Will Provide? Is He your Father? God knows us by our name, shouldn't we know Him by His?

What does "Hallowed be Your name" mean?
To hallow a thing is to make it holy or to set it apart to be exalted as being worthy of absolute devotion. To hallow the name of God is to regard Him with complete devotion and loving admiration. God's name is of the utmost importance (Neh 9:5); therefore we ought reserve it a position of grave significance in our minds and hearts. We should never take His name lightly (Exodus 20:7; Lev 22:32), but always rejoice in it and think deeply upon its true meaning.

01.12.2016 - Discernment
Last night I had a very restless sleep. Maybe it was the pizza and ice cream (don't judge), perhaps something darker. In between the tossing and turning, I recognized the nature of the thoughts attacking my consciousness and knew I needed to deal with this. I first had to ask the question: Where is this coming from? Sometimes it is not always clear. I resisted the thoughts and the Holy Spirit spoke to me the word "Discernment". This is what I want to explore today. What exactly is discernment and how to we improve this skill?

According to gotanswers.org, "Discernment" is defined as "the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; an act of perceiving something; a power to see what is not evident to the average mind." The definition also stresses accuracy, as in "the ability to see the truth." Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between truth and error. It is basic to having wisdom.

1 John 4:1 tells us "not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God" and Hebrews 5:14 tells us that "solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil". So now we know that God wants us to be discerning and that with constant practice we can recognize what is good and what is evil.

For those that have been reading my blog for a while, what I am about to write may sound familiar, but I believe that it's worth repeating. It has been one of the most effective tools for me in living a godly life. When you are faced with a thought that you know is not from God, picture in your mind a "Reject" button and push it. In your mind, allow the pushing of this button to dismiss the thought. Sometimes I also use other words such as resist, dismiss, cancel, or delete. Whatever works for you, but be on your guard, ready to fight against any evil thought that the devil would try to get you to dwell on. Resist him and he must flee. Do it immediately and move on. If he tries to put the thought in your mind again, resist again. This is a skill that can be honed and it will lead to a healthy thought-life and a closer walk with God.

And if you are faced with a temptation, stand on the promise found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which tells us that there is always a way to escape! "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

My prayer for you today is that the Holy Spirit will guide you, giving you wisdom and discernment to test every spirit, to resist all thoughts not from Him, to look for the exit when tempted, and to live a life that would be pleasing to Him.

01.11.2016 - Quiet Time
I woke early this morning and was excited about having some quiet time with the Lord. Let me stop right there and say that this in itself is an answer to prayer. I want so much to be closer to Him but I usually don't get up early and honestly my quiet time over the years has not usually been as quiet as it should be. For me it was usually on the go as I was getting ready for work or driving down the road on the way to work. The Holy Spirit is working on me and in me now and it is a feeling that I cannot get enough of. After I prayed this morning and asked God to give me something to write I felt this wave of the Holy Spirit rising up in me, fueling me, and I knew He was with me so I just starting writing this.

I have heard various people over the years talk about their "quiet time". To be honest, I always wondered how they did it. I think I am starting to get the idea. I want to tell you, in love, that if you focus on trying to have a quiet time rather than focusing on all the reasons why you don't have time for one, God will provide the time and things will change. This is exactly what happened to me. It has to start with a desire. If you desire a closer walk with God and want to make Him a priority in your life, all the excuses will disappear with the devil as he runs away. Hallelujah!

A few days ago, we talked about how God's way is simple while the devil tries to make things seem complicated to be a barrier to our having a closer relationship with God. Quiet time is one of those things. Do not let your sleep or your schedule or anything else keep you from having a consistent and quality quiet time with God. It has changed my life and it will change yours too.

My version of quiet time is sitting down at the kitchen table and praying, listening, studying, and writing. The key for me has been to block out all other distractions and to follow the Holy Spirit's lead. It is important to stay focused and make God your priority during this time. Don't overthink this or allow it to become complicated. It's simple. It's really just a matter of wanting to and beginning.

And remember, it's called "quiet" time for a reason. You don't have to do all the talking. God already knows what you are thinking. Listen to what He has to say. The Bible calls it waiting on God. Start your quiet time by praising God, asking for forgiveness of sins, praying for others, and pray that God will speak to your heart. He will guide you. Listen! I also believe it's important to read scripture during this time. Read it slowly and meditate on His Word praying as you study.

Also, as the Lord leads you, begin to write down what you hear and learn. Start a journal. It's a powerful tool. I resisted it for years but it too can be a life changer.

Finally, consistency is important. Try to do this every day. Make this a goal. I cannot overstate the importance of working toward having a closer relationship with God. It truly will change your life and it begins with making Him a priority. You will never be the same. If you agree, and are now excited about having a better quiet time with the Lord, great! Act on it! This is a truth that God wants you to have and to act on.

I pray that God will give us the desire to have a closer walk with Him and that we will take action to have a consistent quiet time with Him starting now in Jesus Name.

01.10.2016 - God is the plan
Have you ever started praying and were surprised at what you heard come out of your mouth? That's what happened to me this morning. As I was praying I heard words that I knew were from the Holy Spirit. I prayed "Thank you Lord for your plan, thank you Lord that you ARE the plan, thank you Lord for your love, thank you Lord that you ARE love. This was revelatory to me. I had never thought about God being the plan. I normally think in terms of having a plan or making a plan or even asking God for His plan. This message seemed new and different but was very clear: "HE IS THE PLAN." Let's think about that for a second. We were put here to glorify Him, to serve Him, to worship Him, to follow Him. Of course He is the plan!

God is not a means to an end, He is the means and He is the end. In fact, He is the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13 says that He is the "…Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." He is the beginning, our journey, and our destination. He IS the plan.

It took a lot of years as a Christian for me to finally get that we were not put here to be served by God but to serve God. If He is not already your plan, make Him your plan today!

Father, we know from your Word that you are the author and the finisher of our faith. We know that the plan you have for us is to prosper us and not to harm us. We put our hope in you and ask for a future where you are our plan in Jesus name.

01.09.2016 - Wisdom
Several months ago, the Holy Spirit gave me the desire to study "wisdom". To be honest, I am still studying it. However, I believe that I already have more than enough evidence to make a compelling argument as to its power and importance in our lives.

If you are familiar with Solomon, you already know that he is regarded as the wisest man in history. Have you ever wondered how this happened? The Bible says he asked! 2 Chronicles 1:7, God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you" and in version 10, Solomon replied "Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours."

First, let's define wisdom, and while we're at it, let's contrast it with knowledge, as these are both recurring themes in the Bible, and are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as "the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting." Knowledge, on the other hand, is "information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance." Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered. Ref: http://www.gotquestions.org/wisdom-knowledge.html

While going through the scriptures containing the word "wisdom", 234 to be exact, I began to see a pattern. Multiple verses supported similar concepts and I began to categorize each verse under a broader statement. As I went back and read through these statements, I began to sense the power and value of attaining wisdom. This is what I want to share today. Read the list below. I know it looks long but should only take a couple of minutes and I believe you will start to sense the power of wisdom as you read the list. After you have read the list, pray today and every day that God will give you wisdom. Blessings!

Wisdom is a gift
Wisdom is from God
Wisdom was present before the earth
God has true wisdom
God created wisdom
Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord
Wisdom belongs to God
Wisdom is desired
Wisdom is sought
Wisdom is honored
Wisdom is honorable
God's Wisdom is limitless
God's Wisdom is immeasurable
Wisdom is summoned
Wisdom is challenged
Wisdom is granted
Wisdom's recipients are grateful
Man's wisdom is inferior to God's wisdom
Wisdom is not always present among men
Wisdom is profitable
God gives wisdom that experience cannot
Wisdom is with the aged
Wisdom should be sought by those in authority
God's Word provides wisdom
The wicked who rely on their wisdom will face disaster
Wisdom is its own reward
Wisdom is with the humble
Wisdom is commendable
Words of wisdom prevent harm
Wisdom brings wealth
Wisdom can be corrupted
Wisdom speaks knowledge
Wisdom spreads knowledge
Wisdom is more powerful than might
Wisdom is greatly valued
Wisdom gives strength
Wisdom brings light
Wisdom can deliver
True wisdom comes from the Lord
Wisdom can be hidden
God's wisdom is destined for our glory
Wisdom can be taken away
Wisdom can be forgotten
Man's wisdom cannot compare to God's wisdom
The wisdom of the world is foolish
Wisdom brings happiness
Seeking wisdom is rewarded
Wisdom's value is not appreciated by man
Wisdom cannot be bought
Wisdom can be taught
Wisdom is spoken by the righteous
Wisdom is available
Wisdom comes with a blessing
The earth was founded by wisdom
Wisdom brings life to your soul
Wisdom brings safety and victory
Wisdom takes away fear and gives you rest
Wisdom is commanded
Wisdom will extend your years
Wisdom calls
Wisdom is precious
Wisdom is prudent, knowledgeable, and discrete
Wisdom hates perverted speech
Wisdom brings insight and strength
Wisdom is just
Wisdom will be found by those that seek her
Wisdom brings riches, honor, and righteousness
Wisdom is pleasurable to a man of understanding
Wisdom is revealed
Words of wisdom are endless
Words of wisdom are the external evidence of a greater source
Wisdom is more beautiful than youth
Wisdom is an investment
Build your house with wisdom
Wisdom will silence fools
Wisdom can make your future bright
Wisdom is useless in the mouth of fools
Wisdom is better than an inheritance
Wisdom makes you happy
Wisdom motivates
Wisdom can surprise others
Wisdom can be measured
Jesus is wisdom from God
Faith cannot come from human wisdom

01.08.2016 - Real Men Do Jesus
A few years ago I attended a little church in Buena Vista, Ga and I heard a sermon from Pastor Jim Myers entitled "Real Men Do Jesus". His sermon was bold and made a lasting impression on me. In listening to Jim preach I was captivated and revitalized. It was a call to action for men to step up, speak out, and be men of God and for God. He spoke, unashamed to speak the name of Jesus. I have great respect for anyone who is bold enough to do this, regardless of their gender.

Generally speaking, guys that play sports, hunt, fish, lift weights, and can change a car tire are the guys who are thought of as a "man's man". I have no issues with any of these things, however, I have to ask the question: Should our goal as men be to be a "man's man" or men of God? While these are not mutually exclusive of each other, I contend that it is easier, as a man, to talk about football than it is to talk about Jesus. This should not be. I think it takes real guts to be a Jesus guy even in our country today.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:32-33 says: "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven."

Jesus is not a trend that can be in or out of vogue based on the court of popular opinion. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And our faith in Him and the sharing of the gospel should also be unaffected by the world around us or the trends of our time. Let's not allow the world to dictate what is acceptable and holy. I believe this comes from God and God alone. My encouragement to us all; men and women, boys and girls, is to stay the course, not wavering in our faith, but in being the people that God has called us to be and to boldly share His message as He has commanded.

01.07.2016 - Doors
Over the years, especially when faced with a big decision such as buying a house, or changing jobs, I rely on God to open or close the door. This is based on Revelation 3:7-8 "…What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

I take great assurance in knowing that I serve a God who wants the best for me. Trust in Him to open and close the doors in your life. The doors He opens are for our benefit and we should walk through them. The doors He closes lead to areas which would do us harm. Walking through the doors He opens and walking away from the doors He closes may not always be easy but will always be good.

I think that it is interesting to note that when faced with an open door, we have a choice whether or not to walk through it but when faced with a closed door we must simply learn to accept it and move on. In both cases, faith is required. I have a situation in my life today which could go a couple of different ways and I have given this to the Lord. If He opens the door, I will be walking through it and praising Him. If He closes the door, I will be walking away and praising Him. Giving this to the Lord in faith takes the pressure off of me. This is what surrendering is all about.

Again, it's not complicated. Instead of spending our lives walking away from open doors in fear or trying to pry open closed doors by our own strength, I believe God's way is infinitely better. He has called us to live by faith not by sight and by His Spirit, not by our own strength.

2 Corinthians 5:7 "For we live by faith, not by sight."

Zechariah 4:6 "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty."

Take confidence in knowing that if He has opened a door in your life that it is good and if He has closed a door it is for a good reason. Either way, follow His lead and praise Him and you will be glad you did.

God bless you as you walk through doors He has opened for you and walk away from doors He has closed to protect you.

01.06.2016 - Get the Word out
This morning, the Holy Spirit spoke the words "Get the Word out". I love it. This is a phrase that we normally use when we want others to know about a significant event that has occurred or one that is going to occur. He impressed upon me that "Get the Word out" means to allow the Word (God's Word) to come out of us and to be shared with others. Can you think of any significant events that have occurred or that might occur that people should know about? Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection, and return come to mind. Do you have knowledge of God's Word that would benefit others if only you shared it?

Yes, we need to seek, pray, listen, learn, and abide in Him. But, and this is the point, we must also share the knowledge of Christ with others. I believe that this is what the Holy Spirit is wanting us to hear today "Get the Word out". Our knowledge of the Word benefits us. Our sharing of the Word benefits others. Here are a few scriptures that point this out.

Mark 16:15-16 "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

2 Corinthians 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere."

My prayer for us today is that we recognize the importance of hearing the Word AND SHARING IT with others. Let's Get the Word Out!

Have a blessed day!

01.05.2016 - What to pray

Yesterday we talked about the significance, importance, and power of prayer. I thought it would be appropriate today to revisit some thoughts on what to pray. The Lord led me to put my daily prayer in writing about 8 years ago and I revise it often. I am removing the names from the list for privacy reasons, but you can certainly use this as a place to start, filling in the blanks with those that you want to pray for specifically. This has been a powerful tool for me and I want to share it with you. I pray some version of this every day and it has definitely made a significant difference in my spiritual walk. Add, edit, delete, or start from scratch, but I encourage you to start a prayer list like this if you don’t already have one. Pray it every day and update it as you feel led. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you in this.

  • Father God, I love you and I praise you for who you are.
  • You are an Awesome God and worthy to be praised.
  • I come humbly before your throne in the name of Jesus
  • There is none like you and none before you.
  • You are the way, the truth, and the life
  • You are our deliverer and the author and finisher of our faith
  • I thank you that you are the plan and that you are my plan. I put my trust in you.
  • I surrender all to you
  • I pray that you will increase and that I will decrease
  • I pray that your will be done, not my own
  • You are good and your love endures forever
  • Please deliver us from evil
  • Please deliver us from and make us strong against temptation
  • Please forgive us of and protect us from pride, lust, lies, greed, envy, jealousy, idolatry, selfishness, judging, and any other thing that would be displeasing to you
  • Please send us your protective angels to watch over us
  • I pray for a closer, more intimate walk with you
  • Thank you for the day
  • Thank you for all that you give us
  • Thank you for the breath of life
  • Thank you for your mercy and your grace
  • Please give us joy
  • Please guide us, lead us, and direct us
  • Please give us strength and grace for the journey
  • Please give us endurance for the day
  • Please give us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding
  • Please heal our land and expand our territory
  • Please help us to have a productive day
  • Please give us opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better
  • Please give us humility and confidence
  • Please keep falsehood and lies far from us
  • Please help me to be a better believer, leader, teacher, writer, father, husband, brother, son, employee, and person
  • Please help me to be a positive influence on someone today
  • Please prepare the people who would be good for us and bring them into our lives in your perfect timing
  • Please help us to be good examples of Christ to others
  • Please give wisdom to those in authority over me
  • Please give me wisdom to lead those I am in authority over
  • Please help me to be a good representation of you
  • Please help me to interact with my peers and those around me in a way that would be pleasing to you
  • Please help me to use the resources and gifts you have given me for your glory
  • Please bless us spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and financially
  • Please repair and improve our relationships with each other
  • Please give us your favor
  • Please help us to be content with what we have
  • Please keep [ Fill in the names of those in your inner-circle here ] healthy, happy, holy, and protected
  • I lift up the following to you Lord and pray for joy, peace, prosperity, blessings, good health, and comfort for
  • My Family
    • [ Fill in the names of those in your family ]
  • Other Families:
    • [ Fill in the names of families who need your prayer ]
  • Individuals (Healing)
    • [ Fill in the names of those who need healing here ]
  • Pastors in Columbus (please lead them, protect them, anoint them, give them peace, and wisdom)
  • Pastors Prayer Partners Ministry and other volunteers (please give them a relentless passion to pray and wisdom to serve)
  • Christian authors: Max Lucado, Ted Dekker, Benny Hinn (please give them wisdom, inspiration, encouragement, and endurance)
  • Christian artists: Jeremy Camp, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Lauren Daigle, Newsboys, NewSong, Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day (please inspire and encourage them)
  • Christian Radio and TV personalities: The Joy FM, The Truth (please give them courage to always speak the truth)
  • Lord, please give me an assignment today
  • Please give me the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the faith of Abraham, the meekness of Moses, and the love of Jesus
  • Please equip me with your armor
  • Please give me the fruit of your Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)
  • Please make me worthy and equip me to fulfill the calling you have established for me
  • Holy Spirit, please give me something to write today and deliver it to those that you want to hear it
  • Blog Subscribers (please reach them with your words and bless them for taking the time to read this blog)
  • I praise you for you are Holy
  • I pray all these things in the name and through the blood of your precious son Jesus
01.04.2016 - Don't forget to pray
Yesterday we talked about how God's plan for us is intended to be simple, while the devil tries to make it complicated in an attempt to distract us and keep us as far from the truth as possible. A key to any successful relationship is communication and the way we communicate with God is through prayer.

I realize that the idea of prayer is nothing new but that is the point. Prayer is simple. You don't have to pray long, eloquent prayers. You don't even have to stop what you are doing to pray, although I do suggest a dedicated quiet time of prayer where it is your priority.

The point is that prayer is not difficult but it is VERY powerful. Meditate on that for a moment. The return on your investment is incalculable. God has provided a simple communication tool for us to tap into His power and in the process we develop a relationship with Him and through this He will guide our lives. It requires almost no effort at all. We don't even have to open our mouths! Is anyone getting this? Prayer is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do so why is it so hard? Why don't we do it more? Because we think we are too busy or God is too busy or because we prayed one time and didn't get an answer? Lies, Lies, Lies.

Lord, let us not be deceived. Please help us to cut through the junk the devil is trying to put in our way of receiving the gifts that you have preordained for us. Let us understand the significance, power, and simplicity of prayer in our daily lives.

I pray that the Lord will bless and honor the prayers that you send forth and that you will see your prayers answered this year as you seek Him in a greater way through prayer in Jesus Name. There is no other name by which we are saved. Be Blessed!

01.03.2016 - It's Not Complicated
The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and showed me that His plan is simple. It is the devil who tries to make things seem complicated. I found this very interesting. Is there really anything difficult about reading the Bible? Is there really anything difficult about sharing our faith? How hard is it to pray every day? What about treating others as we want to be treated? Resisting temptation? Is anything God is asking us to do in any way complicated? No, it's not. Any answer to any of these questions that comes to mind that sounds like an excuse or a rationalization as to why we don't or can't do what He is asking us to do is likely rooted in deception.

We tend to rationalize why things seem difficult when there is no visible barrier of resistance to the things that will bring us closer to Jesus. The unseen barrier is the devil. He does not want you reading God's Word because if you do you will know the truth and hear from God. He does not want you sharing your faith because you might plant a seed that will bring others to Christ. He does not want you praying because if you have a relationship with God you will see the devil for who he really is; a liar, deceiver, thief, and a counterfeit whose purpose is to be a barrier between us and God. If you treat others as you want to be treated you will be pleasing God, helping others, and following His plan. If you read the Bible you will discover that you have power to resist temptation and a way out of sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

Don't you see, the complication in our lives is the devil trying to convolute a simple plan which could lead to a healthy, happy, prosperous, and abundant life.

My prayer for us today is that we will see the complication for what it really is and resist it and follow God's simple plan and allow Him to be prevalent in our lives.

01.02.2016 - God is smaller than us
God is smaller than us? I know that sounds like an odd statement but go with me on this. We normally think of God in terms of being larger than the universe, which He is, but God is also omnipresent. He is everywhere and "in" everything. Does everything include the head of pin, the eye of a needle, a grain of sand? Yes. God can be as big or as small as He wants. Larger than the universe and smaller than a molecule. He is not limited by size. So let's not limit Him in our lives by only praying about the big things. There is nothing too large OR too small for God. As you go throughout the day, remember to pray and praise for the small, routine, day-to-day stuff too. Never assume that a prayer is too small to bother God with. This is a deception of the devil. Don't believe it. God wants us to seek Him in all things, large or small. My prayer for us today is that we will remember that God does not have a minimum requirement for the size of our prayers.
01.01.2016 - Surrender All
Happy New Year!

This morning the Holy Spirit impressed upon me to write about surrendering all. I believe that this is the perfect topic as we begin a brand new year. Do you want to experience a greater joy and a peace that passes all understanding in the new year? I do.

Imagine what 2016 can bring if we truly surrender everything to God? Let's commit to allowing Him to direct, lead, and guide our lives. Let's give up on the idea of trying to outsmart the world and the idea that we can live an abundant life by our own strength. Let's truly surrender our hearts, our thoughts, our words, and our actions to God this year and enjoy a deeper relationship with Him. What a perfect New Year's Resolution!

In Matthew 16:24-27 Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

Surrendering is not about taking charge or taking control, it's about letting go and having faith. Surrendering will mean relinquishing tasks that we thought were ours to God. Don't try to sit in His chair. It means standing strong in the face of temptation. You can do it. We are called to surrender to His desires not our own. Do not let the devil win anymore. Multiply your Hallelujahs! Resist anything that is not from God and accept and embrace what is from Him. Put your trust in Him. If you have any pride, you will have to let it go. Squash it. It's okay, it was never a true friend anyway. Pray that God will increase and that you will decrease. Pray for His will to be done and not your own.

When no one else is watching, lift your hands in the air as high as you can. The Holy Spirit showed me years ago that when you do this you are creating a funnel for the Holy Spirit to descend into. With your hands held high, and your funnel in place, praise God and surrender to His will. Pray this: Father I love you and I praise you for you are holy and your love endures forever. You are the author and the finisher of our faith. I surrender every thought, every care, every device, every weakness, every pain, every relationship, every treasure, every word, every insecurity, every action, and everything to you right now in the name and through the blood of Jesus. You are my redeemer and my Lord. I surrender my life to you completely. I give you everything I have and everything I am freely and willingly. I thank you in advance for a miraculous new year!

I pray that you can sense the Holy Spirit through this message. I know that it is from Him. To God be the glory! This message was for me as well. I just prayed this prayer of surrender and it is powerful. I pray that you will also. The battle is over people. We are not defeated. It's time to get up and walk with Him.

I pray that God will work in your life and bless you and your family in the coming year as you surrender to Him.

12.31.2015 - Who you speak against
The Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning and reminded me that He loves everyone regardless of their choices, their decisions, their habits, or their sin. While He does not love the sin, He does love the sinner. We should be very happy about this because we all fall into this category.

What He showed me today is that when anyone speaks against another person, they are speaking against someone God loves. Wow! That really puts things into perspective doesn't it? This includes family, friends, loved ones, enemies, TV personalities, the guy who just cut you off in traffic, politicians, someone who has done you wrong, you fill in the blank.

God loves ALL people and when we speak out against ANYONE, we are speaking against someone that God loves.

Next time you have a thought against someone, reject it, pray for them, and do not speak against them. God will bless this.

Remember that none of us are without sin and God loves us all. Let's try to see each other the way that God sees us and treat each other the way that we want to be treated.

12.30.2015 - Power
As I was praying this morning, I prayed "Holy Spirit, I give you the power in my life. Satan, I rebuke you and I give you no power in my life". Who you give power to is your choice. In fact, whatever you do is your choice. I have heard it said that God is a gentleman. He does not force us to accept His son, or His plan, or anything else for that matter. He has given us free will to choose who we serve, how we act, and where we spend our time. I am here to tell you that the more time you choose to spend with Him the better off you will be. He only wants good for us and He wants us to want to spend time with Him. Give Him a place of priority in your life. In fact, make Him your number 1 priority and watch, expectantly, at the positive and miraculous changes that will occur in your life.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Deuteronomy 30:19 "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live".

Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

Make a decision today who you are going to give power to in your life and declare it. I pray that you choose life!

12.29.2015 - Distractions
I have discovered over the years that one of the times when I hear the Holy Spirit most clearly is when I am between asleep and awake. I believe that this is because it is at these times that my mind is in neutral, not focused on the noise and distractions of the world. These are times when I am quiet and open to the Holy Spirit.

The other night, I saw an image of a flashlight shining a light on my bare back. When I moved in another direction the light followed me. Wherever I went the light was there shining on my back. And then I saw myself thinking about the Lord and wanting to be in His presence and my body turned toward Him, the light shined on my open chest and the communication was established. The Lord showed me that He is always present and always wanting to communicate with us. Our spirit lives within a body. We must open up to God to have a relationship with Him. Even when we are focused on other things, God is still there waiting and wanting our focus to be on Him.

You can’t hear God when your mind is crowded with thoughts, worries, fears, and plans, or if you always have the TV on. If you constantly have your phone against your ear, when God calls all he gets is a busy signal!

All of these distractions are what Jesus was referring to in Luke 8 when he talked about the seed falling in the weeds. Luke 8:7 "Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants."

Now notice that this scenario is a little bit better than the shallow soil because the seed actually sprouts and grows. But the weeds choke it out so it never bears fruit. So many people hear God speak, but as they go on their way, life’s worries, riches, and pleasures choke them, so they never mature.

If you are always on the go and you can’t hear God, you are facing the barrier of busyness. Often we confuse busyness with productivity and they aren’t the same thing. If you keep going but you aren’t spiritually growing, then you are busy, not productive.

Jesus says distractions are like weeds that grow up in your mind and heart, just as weeds grow in a garden.

There are three types of weeds that will keep you from hearing God’s voice:

Worries – The Greek word for worry is merinma, which means “pulled in different directions.” When you are pulled in different directions, you are worried. And when you are worried, you can’t hear God.

Riches – You can be so busy making a living, trying to make money to pay the bills and get out of debt that you can’t hear God.

Pleasures – God gives you pleasures, and they are a good thing. But you can get so busy pursuing pleasures and fun that you forget to pursue God as well.

How much effort does it take to grow weeds? None. Weeds are a sign of neglect. When you neglect your time with God, the weeds start to grow in your life. In order to overcome the weeds, you must learn to overcome your preoccupied mind.

First Kings 19:12 says that when God spoke to Elijah, it wasn’t in a wind or earthquake or fire; it was in a gentle whisper. If you want to hear God whisper to you, you have to be quiet.

Finally, I think it is important to recognize that distraction from God is dangerous. As believers we believe that God is the captain of our ship. When we start losing sight of our captain, we start trying to steer our own ship. Not only does this lead to going the wrong way, but it can lead us in the direction of trials, sin, missed opportunities, and missed blessings.

Losing sight of our captain leads to fear and worry and it becomes easier to focus on the waves and other circumstances around us. And with advances in technology, the distraction from God is becoming easier and easier.

Do not allow yourself to be sucked in by worldly distractions. Spend time praying, reading, and sharing your faith with others. Make your walk with God a priority and do not allow the noise of this world to drown out God's voice in your life.

Reference: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/hear-god-eliminate-the-distractions, http://biblereasons.com/distractions/

12.28.2015 - Contentment
In a sermon this morning, Pastor Mike taught us that to have a victorious life we must learn the art of enjoying the day and that we should enjoy our normal days most. I had never heard these phrases before and it spoke to my spirit, prompting a desire to learn more about the significance of contentment.

First, let's consider the striking contrast between God's desire for us to be content with the world's view to always want more. We are continually bombarded with messages enticing us to buy new things, get better jobs, buy bigger houses, make more money, and carry the latest phone; more, faster, bigger, better. So what is contentment, why should we want it, and how do we get it? This is what I want to find out.

Here is what Rick Warren has to say about contentment. Contentment means that happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught in "when" thinking -- "When I get such and such, then I'll be happy." "When I get to a certain level economically... When I get a certain job ... When I can retire ... then I'll be happy. When I get the house paid off... When I get the bills paid off... then!"

"There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it." 1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NRSV) "So God chooses to use finances as the acid test of how much you trust Him. He wants us to come to him and ask when we have a need and learn to be content ..."

God says "No, once you get there, you'll always want something else. You'll always want more." Somebody once asked the billionaire Howard Hughes, "How much does it take to make a man happy?" He said, "Just a little more."

God says, "I want you to learn contentment." It's not about not having goals. It's saying "My happiness is dependent upon the Lord not on my circumstances in life."

Paul learned contentment. He says in Philippians 4:12, "I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I've learned the secret of contentment in every situation." (LB) Contentment is something you have to learn. It's not something that comes naturally. I, by my nature, am naturally discontent. And so are you.

How do you learn to be content? Stop comparing. God says it's stupid to compare yourself to others. You compare houses, clothes, cars. I bought a computer a couple of weeks ago and I was so excited about it. Then I opened a magazine and there's a newer model!

We're constantly comparing -- and comparing causes discontent. And because of discontent God says, "You can't handle what I want to give you because you're putting too much priority on things in your life." Can God trust you with wealth? Have you learned to be content?

I don't know why but God has chosen money to be the acid test of our faith. We spend our entire lives trying to make it, earn it, save it, spend it, and use it. So God chooses to use finances as the acid test of how much you trust Him. He wants us to come to him and ask when we have a need and learn to be content, that our happiness isn't dependent on how much or how little we've got. If you don't learn contentment, you'll never be happy. You'll always want more.

My prayer for us is that we will learn to be content with what we have, where we are, and that we will rely on the Lord for our joy which transcends any and all circumstances.

12.27.2015 - Forbearance
As I was praying this morning "Please give me the fruit of your Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), the word "forbearance" seemed to jump off the page. This is not a word we use today, at least I don't, so I looked it up, found one of its synonyms to be "patience", which is what I had always thought it meant, and was about to move on when I felt the Holy Spirit pressing in, urging me to look further, to study and write about forbearance.

My first ah ha moment was when I realized that the word "forbearance", not "patience" is used in the NIV. This was a clear indication that forbearance may have a broader meaning than patience. So let's take a closer look today at the fruit of the Spirit which may not be as clearly understood as the others.

Webster defines "forbearance" as "a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due". Wow, I have to admit that I was way off on what I thought forbearance meant.

According to bibletools.org, The idea of forbearance arises in the Bible under different words. Forbearance could be explained as showing patience, even though a thing is owed to us. It is holding back or restraining the self from doing something that is normal to do. It is controlling oneself when provoked or offended. Its synonyms show us some of the nuances of forbearance: "patience," "leniency." Leniency does not mean that one allows something to continue. A more strict definition is that one does not give the full punishment for something or the full amount of something. You still exact justice, but it is not as harsh as it could be.

Wow, ok, I think I am getting the picture now. Forbearance is more than exhibiting patience while sitting in a waiting room or standing in line at the grocery store. This is about giving grace, showing mercy, and exhibiting self-control when others are involved. This ties in nicely with a recent blog on turning the other cheek, which we discovered really means not returning insult for insult. This is not about waiting patiently but in bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2) "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Another synonym for forbearance is "tolerance". There are levels of tolerance. One can tolerate a person and not tolerate what he has done. One could forbear with him while he is trying to repent. Another is "self-restraint", which is holding back the self from doing a thing that one may come to regret. Another synonym is "command of temper." Do we lash out when something happens, rather than control ourselves? "Endurance" and "longsuffering" are also synonymous to "forbearance." Even "clemency" can be used for "forbearance," as it occurs in the New King James at least once or twice. Yet another term is "mildness," suggesting that one is mild rather than harsh in judgment or reaction. Another synonym would be "mercy" or "merciful," as well as the word "pardon." All these are synonyms of forbearance that give us an idea, a glimpse, into how broad the application of forbearance is.

Thankfully for us, the fruit of the Spirit, characteristics which we are to exhibit, including forbearance, are characteristics of God and come from God. In other words, He exhibits forbearance toward us and has called us to be like Him. Romans 3:25-26 "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

So to exhibit forbearance, we must bear with one another in love, show restraint when provoked or offended, not lash out, not fire back, be mild rather than harsh in judgment or reaction, and show mercy freely as God has freely shown mercy toward us.

My prayer for us today is that we would exhibit forbearance toward one other in Jesus name. Have a blessed day!

12.26.2015 - Lukewarm
As I was taking medicine before bed I cupped my hands under the bathroom faucet and drank the water. I didn’t realize that the water wasn't cold. If you have ever drank warm water you know what I am talking about. It just tastes wrong. It almost makes you feel sick. I immediately thought of how the Bible talks about how we are not to be lukewarm. Let's explore this subject today.

The Lord instructed the Apostle John to write to the church of Laodicea these words (Revelation 3:15-16) "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

The Lord is describing the "lukewarm" heart attitude of those in the Laodicean church, an attitude manifested by their deeds. They were neither cold nor hot in relation to God, just lukewarm. We know that drinks such as coffee and hot chocolate are best served hot, while other drinks such as water and sodas are best served cold. To me, tea is another great example. Some may like it hot, others may like it cold, but it just ain't good warm. Yes I said "ain't" (It seemed fitting here for some reason), but I digress. The point is that the Lord would rather that people be either hot (spiritually on fire for Him) or cold (rejecting Him outright). The Laodiceans understood the analogy because their city drinking water came from a spring six miles to the south over an aqueduct, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. It was not hot like the nearby hot springs that people bathed in, nor was it refreshingly cold for drinking. It was lukewarm, good for nothing. In fact, it was nauseating, and that was the Lord’s response to the Laodiceans—they sickened Him.

Webster's definition for lukewarm is "lacking conviction, not enthusiastic, not having or showing energy or excitement." No wonder God does not want us to be lukewarm! If you think about it, God has made the ultimate sacrifice for us by sending His son to die in our place to forgive us for our sins. For those of us with this knowledge to be nonchalant, indifferent, ungrateful, and unexcited must be a great insult to Him. If we were to give someone the gift of a lifetime and they were not excited about it, we would be very disappointed. We might even want to take back the gift.

We serve an Awesome God who is worthy to be praised. There is none like Him and none before Him. He is our deliverer. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He sent His only begotten son to die on a cross for us so that we may be forgiven and have an abundant and eternal life. His love for us endures forever. We have a lot to be excited about and He does not want us to be lukewarm about it. He wants us to be on fire about it! Go big or go home! Be all in for Him! If you have allowed your walk to become lukewarm, my encouragement for you today is that you turn up the heat!

12.25.2015 - Forgive and Forget
Before we leave the subject of forgiveness, Let's explore the topic of "forgiving and forgetting".

First, I think that it's interesting to note that the phrase "Forgive and Forget' does not exist in the Bible. However, there are numerous verses commanding us to "forgive one another" Mathew 6:14 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to obey God and forgive. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not ever change, but that doesn’t negate God’s desire that we possess a forgiving spirit (Matthew 5:44). Ideally, the offender will seek reconciliation, but, if not, the one wronged can still make a decision to forgive. So it is without question that we must forgive, but how about the "forgetting" part?

The reality is that it may be impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively "delete" events from our memory. The Bible states that God does not "remember" our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). But God is still all-knowing. God remembers that we have "sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But, having been forgiven, we are positionally (or judicially) justified. Heaven is ours, as if our sin had never occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not condemn us for our sins (Romans 8:1). In that sense God "forgives and forgets."

If by "forgive and forget" one means, "I choose to forgive the offender for the sake of Christ and move on with my life," then this is a wise and godly course of action. As much as possible, we should forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13-14) "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus". We should forgive each other "just as in Christ God forgave" (Ephesians 4:32). We must not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).

However, if by "forgive and forget" one means, "I will act as if the sin had never occurred and live as if I don’t remember it," then we can run into trouble. For example, a rape victim can choose to forgive the rapist, but that does not mean she should act as if that sin had never happened. To spend time alone with the rapist, especially if he is unrepentant, is not what Scripture teaches. Forgiveness involves not holding a sin against a person any longer, but forgiveness is different from trust. It is wise to take precautions, and sometimes the dynamics of a relationship will have to change. "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty" (Proverbs 22:3). Jesus told His followers to "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). In the context of keeping company with unrepentant sinners, we must be "innocent" (willing to forgive) yet at the same time "shrewd" (being cautious).

The ideal is to forgive and forget. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). However, changing hearts is God’s business, and, until an offender has a true, supernatural heart change, it is only wise to limit the level of trust one places in that person. Being cautious doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven. It simply means we are not God and we cannot see that person’s heart.

In short, I believe that this means that we should forgive freely, keep no record of wrongs, and move forward with wisdom, relying on the Holy Spirit as our guide.

References: http://www.gotquestions.org/forgive-forget.html, http://bible-truth.org/msg83.html

12.24.2015 - Turn the other cheek
A couple of days ago, I felt led to write about God's forgiveness. I began to think about scriptures relating to forgiveness and questions I had on the subject. Why seventy times seven?, Why does God remove our sins as far as the east is from the west?, and why are we told to turn the other cheek? Today, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I want to answer this last question. If you missed the first two, you can always click [Read More] from the site to go back and read previous blogs.

Matthew 5:39 says: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

First I think that it is important to understand that to "turn the other cheek," does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in mortal danger. Like the principle of the eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth in Matthew 5:38, turning the other cheek refers to personal retaliation, not criminal offenses or acts of military aggression.

Let's take a closer look at the action before we focus on the reaction. I believe that the word "slap" is intentional and significant. "Slap" or "smite" refers to being slapped in the face with an open hand. This is not a fist to the face, it is more like someone swatting you in the face with their gloves to challenge you to a duel. It is an insult not an injury. Jesus is speaking here of the principle of non-retaliation to affronts against our own dignity.

Turning the other cheek means not to return insult for insult in retaliation, which is what most people expect and how worldly people act. Anyone can retaliate. Anyone can react. I believe that this is the point. Don't operate in the flesh, don't do what everyone else expects you to do. Do what pleases God and what God is saying is don't be carnally minded. Don't act like the world. Return love for hate (v.44)

Responding to hatred with love just might grab someone's attention and afford us a chance to share the gospel. When we respond in a manner that is unnatural, it displays the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus was the perfect example because He was silent before His accusers and did not call down revenge from heaven on those who crucified Him.

So now we know that "being slapped on the cheek" is referring to someone insulting us personally and we are commanded not to return the insult. In addition, we are instructed to love them and pray for them.

I hope this was as much help to you as it was to me. If we are insulted, belittled, undermined, or talked bad about, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will intervene and that we will not retaliate but show love and compassion and pray for our accusers instead.

12.23.2015 - How far is the East from the West?
Yesterday we began a 3 part blog by discussing why Jesus answered "Seventy times seven" and today we will continue by asking the question "How far is the East from the West?" and tomorrow will look at what to do after we have turned the other cheek. By the way, I was recently asked "How can I go back and read previous blog entries?". Good Question. From the website, in the upper right corner of the of the blog section, there is a link entitled "[ Read More]". If you click the link, you will be able to see all previous blog entries. Thanks for the question. Speaking of questions, does anyone know how far the East is from the West? Another good question. Let's explore…

First of all, let's talk about why we are asking this question in the first place. It's because of Psalms 103:12 which says "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." This scripture has been quoted many times and is even a song title written by one of my favorite Christian artists (Casting Crowns). This is a glorious statement of God’s grace toward us; beautifully summarizing the gospel. God placed our sins on Christ so that, in our place, he could bear the wrath we deserved. Psalm 103:12 paints a word picture to help us understand what that means.

We, of course, like the idea of God disposing of our sins, but may have some trepidation when we rationalize that this seems to have a limit (east to west) similar to how seventy times seven is a finite number right? Not exactly.

As we discovered yesterday, Jesus used the number "seven" to convey the totality of forgiveness and in a similar fashion, the phrase "as far as the east is to the west" also represents something more than expected. Allow me to explain.

Living in Georgia, I consider places like Oklahoma, Texas, and California to be the West. But I don't think this scripture is saying that God is removing my transgressions 2,453 miles away (Ok, I looked it up). This scripture was written for everyone, regardless of their geographical location and is not speaking about a beginning point and an ending point at all. Again, God is not arbitrary and everything He says has a design and an intended purpose. So, why east to west?

Here is the kicker. Think about the Earth as a sphere. Yes, God knew the Earth wasn't flat long before anyone else. Let's say that I start traveling North from Georgia and continue until I reach the North Pole. As I continue past the North Pole I begin traveling South. I can only go so far North. This is precisely why the scripture does not say as far as the North is from the South. However, if I start traveling from any point heading East, guess what? No East Pole! As long as I travel East I will ALWAYS be traveling East. If you could fly a plane that had endless range and unlimited fuel due East, you would continue to circumnavigate the globe and ALWAYS be heading East! As far as the East is to the West is infinite! It is eternal! God is saying that He has cast our sins away from us FOREVER, as far as the East is to the West.

For some of you, this explanation may be nothing new, however, I also found another interpretation below which I found to be very interesting. This came from http://christcommunitywilson.com/blog/how-far-is-the-east-from-the-west-1.

"Movement eastward often symbolizes movement away from God’s presence. The Old Testament, and the Pentateuch in particular, often uses movement eastward to symbolize movement away from God’s presence and/or people. When Adam and Eve sin in the Garden, God sends them eastward (Gen. 3). After Cain kills Abel he “went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). When the people decide to rebel against God and make a tower to show how great they are, they migrated to the east (Genesis 11:2). When Lot separates from Abraham, the blessed one, he chooses the land of the east - away from God’s chosen man (Gen. 13:11). Finally, when Abraham sends the sons of his concubines away from his promised son, Isaac, he sends them to the east country (Gen. 25:6).

So, if movement east represents movement away from God and separation from his people, then perhaps that’s the imagery of Psalm 103:12. Maybe the point is not the infinite distance between them, but the biblical imagery of being removed from God’s people and the land of promise. He removes our sin from us, just as he removed sinners from his promised land, to purify us. The illustration is not as convenient and takes a little more work, but it uses biblical imagery that seems more fitting."

I personally believe that both interpretations have merit. I believe that "as far as the east is from the west" represents infinity, while I also believe that God is removing sin from us represented by the direction East to West.

In both interpretations, rest assured that this is a message of God's infinite grace, redemption, and purification from sin through Christ. I hope that this helps answer the question "How far is the East from the West?". Have a blessed day!

12.22.2015 - Seventy times Seven
I have to confess up front that if there is such a thing as type "A", then I am probably "AAAA". I make no apologies for this, it's just the way that I am. I count the number of steps I climb, I organize my clothes by type and color, I have spent hours rearranging books on my shelves in order by height, I center and level all pictures I hang, I have everything in my medicine cabinet lined up in the order in which I use them, I have a list for everything, and I tend to be very analytical. As a software developer for almost 30 years, it comes with the territory. A missing semicolon can break an entire program so it follows that you begin to look at things more closely and you definitely notice when something is out of place. Also, I think I may inherit these traits from my parents. My father has been known to rehang curtains in hotel rooms if they weren't hung properly, (geez thought I was type "A") and my mother makes a list for everything. Sound familiar? I guess I get it from both sides and it's not a bad thing.

So, when I read the passage where Peter asks Jesus "How often should I forgive?", and Jesus answers "Seventy times seven.", I immediately did what I assume most of us would do. I did the math. Ok, so we are supposed to forgive 490 times. Check. Not sure why 490 but I am sure there is a reason, but I still want to know why this number was mentioned specifically. When God said that he removes our transgressions "as far as the east is from the west", I want to know how far the east is from the west. When we are told to turn the other cheek, I want to know what we are supposed to do when we run out of cheeks. I believe these are legitimate questions.

As a Christian, I believe in the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) and I also know that God is not arbitrary. He made these statements for a reason and with a designed purpose. So let's explore God's forgiveness today and see if we can answer these 3 questions in a 3 part series. Today, let's try to answer the question, Why seventy times seven?

When I looked up the scripture in Matthew 18:22, I was surprised, shocked really, to find that the KJV says "seventy times seven" while the NIV says "seventy-seven times". Now I know something is up. These numbers, if taken literally, would represent a huge disparity depending on the translation. So am I supposed to forgive 77 times or 490 times? The answer is simple: "Yes". But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let's take a step back and paint the picture in the proper context: Peter was asking Jesus a question: "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?" and Peter was making a fairly generous offer when he said "As many as seven times?" Jesus, insists that forgiveness must be unconditional and answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." This was the meaning of his answer: Luke 17:4 (NIV) "Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying 'I repent,' you must forgive them." In other words, you are to forgive every time someone sins against you.

Jesus uses the number "seven" to convey the totality of forgiveness. While Peter considered "seven" solely as according to the letter, Jesus raises our hearts and minds to the recognition of the true spirit of his words. Peter had understood our Lord’s words narrowly, as though "seven times" were the limit of forgiveness. However, Jesus makes it clear that "seven" signifies not so much the literal number, but rather the figure of totality. Just as there are seven days in the week, so too all of time is included in the number seven. And in the recurrence of the seven day week, so too is included also all the sins that could fill those seven days. Therefore, when Jesus said, If they sin against you seven times (Luke 17:4), he meant, "Whatever a brother may do against you and however he may sin against you." Reference: http://www.70x7.com/70x7meaning.htm

Now, I was completely happy with this answer, but as I continued to study, I found that there are even deeper meanings behind Jesus' answer. For the sake of brevity, I will summarize by saying that regardless of the translation, seventy-seven, or seventy times seven, neither answer is intended to indicate a specific number but rather an infinite number of times. This scripture is instructing us to forgive those that sin against us every time in the same way that we expect God to forgive us every time we sin against Him. Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

I hope that this has provided a clear picture that we are commanded to forgive always. If you are still hung up on the number 490, my suggestion is that you not worry about it until after you have forgiven someone 490 times! I think this was Jesus point in a nutshell. Don't worry about a number, just forgive! If Peter had asked "Should we forgive a brother 10 times?", Jesus might have answered "No, ten times ten-thousand" and I think the point would have been the same, forgive always.

12.21.2015 - The Power of God's Word
Wow, I am on fire for this one. Do you ever get chills all over and you know it's the Lord? That's what I am feeling right now as the Holy Spirit is sharing with me revelation about the power of God's Word and I am very excited to write about it.

I sense in my spirit that we may not fully understand the extent of the power in God's Word. First of all, what exactly is God's Word? God's Word is anything that comes from God. It is God and it is anything that He speaks. These may be words that He used to create the world or these may be words that He speaks to you personally. These words can be audible, internal, or written. The Bible is often referred to as God's Word.

It is important to understand that what God speaks, is not only true, but is THE TRUTH. This may seem like a subtle difference, but these are two vastly different things. Allow me to explain. If I say "the sky is blue" when the sky is blue then what I am saying is true and is the truth (lower case "t"), however, if the sky is black and God says "the sky is blue", then because He is God and HIS WORD is all powerful and because He is THE TRUTH, the sky IS blue. For us, this is sometimes a hard concept to grasp, but I do not believe that the sky becomes blue, I believe that when God says IT IS BLUE or LET THERE BE LIGHT, I believe that it simply IS. Similar to the way that we are born but God IS. This is precisely why God cannot tell a lie. This is not a result of God being limited in some way. On the contrary, it is a result of God's Word having infinite power so that whatever He speaks IS THE TRUTH. That's power folks! So when God says that you are redeemed, believe it. When God says that you are healed, believe it. When God says that you are saved, believe it. When God says anything, believe it! Read His Word and believe it!

Proverbs 30:5 says that "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him." and Psalm 33:4 says "For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does." and let's not forget why we have light: Genesis 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light,” and there was light."

The Bible even tells us that the Word is God: John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The Word is powerful: Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

WOW! Wouldn't it be awesome if we could tap into the power of His Word…? I have some fantastic news for you! We can!

God has given us His Word which has been translated into a language we can understand and published as a book available in most every bookstore. In fact, the Bible is the bestselling book of all time! However, I wonder if it is the most read book of all time. More specifically, the question for each of us should be, do we understand and appreciate the power in God's Word and its availability to us? Is reading it a priority in our lives? Do we allow ourselves to be distracted or make excuses for not reading the Bible more? I believe that God gave us His Word, the Bible, to show us how to have an abundant life, but there is a deceiver who is also working to keep us from taping into God's power. John 10:10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Mark 4:15: "Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them."

Do not be fooled. The Bible is a mighty weapon, a powerful tool, our roadmap to God's glory, and it contains the power of God Almighty's Word. Satan knows this and does not want us spending time in God's Word because it contains the weapons to defeat him. God gave us His word to teach and equip us: 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

God's Word shines a light on our path: Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Psalm 119:9 "How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word."

Reading and understanding God's Word is very important, but we must put into practice what we read. I have heard my pastor say it this way: "Reading a diet book without applying what you have read is of no use." James 1:22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Luke 11:28 "He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Matthew 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

God's Word is eternal: Isaiah 40:8 "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

God's Word gives us understanding: Psalm 119:130 "The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."

We are instructed to live by God's Word: Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

God's Word can save you: James 1:21 "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."

God's Word is powerful: Hebrews 1:3 "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

I hope this helps reveal the power of God's Word and I pray that you make spending time in His Word a priority in your life today.

12.20.2015 - God's Favor
I was having a conversation with my 17 year old daughter Carley earlier today and she was telling me about a situation at school which had an unexpected but positive outcome. She called it "clutch". I said "It sounds like favor to me." I let her know that I pray every day for us to have God's favor. This is something I have recently added to my prayer list. It started me thinking about God's favor and just how prevalent it is in our lives. Many times, I pray "Thank you Lord for all that you have done for us", not fully understanding the full extent of all He actually does. That, to me, is favor. I just got off the phone with the Kia service department. From the symptoms, we were looking at a new transmission, best case a brake overhaul on Carley's car. The call was to inform us that during the diagnostics they were able to make a computer adjustment and the problem went away! That my friend is God intervening. I call it favor. So let's explore the topic of God's favor. Here is the question, "What is the favor of God, and how can I get it?"

Answer: The best definition of the word favor is “demonstrated delight.” The favor of God can be described as “tangible evidence that a person has the approval of the Lord.” When we favor someone, we want to be with him or her. We delight in him. We connect with her in a way we don’t connect with everyone. We usually favor people who also favor us. In the same way, God shows favor to the ones who delight in, connect with, and give honor to Him. Isaiah 66:2 says, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” To be “perfect” toward Him means we seek His favor more than we seek the favor of anyone else, even ourselves.

God seeks out those who love Him and love His commands so that He can bless, guide, and protect them (Psalm 37:23; Proverbs 3:5–6). This does not mean that everyone who is prosperous or healthy has found favor with God (Jeremiah 12:1; Psalm 37:7; 73:16). Nor does it mean that those whom the Lord favors will never suffer difficulties. Many people in the Bible had the Lord’s favor but also suffered hardship (2 Corinthians 6:4; Acts 14:22; 20:23; 1 Peter 2:19). Heroes such as Noah (Genesis 6:8), Moses (Exodus 32:11; 33:13), Daniel (Daniel 10:19), and Mary (Luke 1:28) were favored of the Lord, but they also struggled with difficulties like anyone else.

Those who are favored of God know that God is with them and that nothing can happen to them apart from His good purpose (Romans 8:28). They have His ear as they walk through dark valleys (Psalm 34:15) and know that their struggle to remain true to Him will not go unrewarded (Matthew 10:42; Revelation 2:10). In addition to outward evidences, God’s favor can be felt in the spirit. When we have the favor of the Lord, we rest in quiet confidence that our sins are forgiven (Romans 4:7), we are within the plan of God (Psalm 86:11), and that He is there for us at all times (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20). We walk with God as with our closest friend. We begin to see and appreciate the little blessings that God provides for our enjoyment—blessings that we once took for granted.

The Lord invites us to seek His favor (Psalm 119:58, 135; 2 Kings 13:4; Jeremiah 26:19; Zephaniah 2:3). When we seek His favor, we humble our hearts before Him (2 Kings 22:19); seek Him for Himself, not just for the blessings He gives (Jeremiah 29:13); and arrange our lives around loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). We seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

One way to obtain favor from the Lord is to seek wisdom. Proverbs 8:35 says, “For those who find me [wisdom] find life and receive favor from the LORD.” Psalm 5:12 says, “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Finding favor with the Lord keeps our lives and thoughts pure because we desire to please Him more than we desire to please ourselves. Hebrews 11:25 says of Moses, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” When the same can be said of us, we know we have found favor with God. His delight in us will be demonstrated.

If you are not already seeking the Lord's wisdom and asking for His favor, I highly recommend that you add these to your prayer list. My prayer for you today is that you and your family will be given wisdom and experience His favor in your lives.

Reference: gotquestions.org

12.19.2015 - The Fruit of the Spirit
As I was praying this morning, I prayed for patience and joy. It occurred to me that these were fruits of the spirit but I also realized that I could not recite them all. The fruit of the spirit seems like an important thing for us to understand and to commit to memory. I saw this as an opportunity to study the Fruit of the Spirit and to share what I learned. Here we go…

When I think of the fruit of the Spirit, I think about the short list from Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." When I began reading these verses, I realized that this list is part of a larger context. The scripture that lists the fruit of the spirit even starts with the word "But" inferring a counter to a pre-context. So I felt led to explore the larger picture here. I believe when we look at the fruit of the Spirit that we should actually read the entire context beginning in verse 13 to the end of the chapter in verse 26.

Galatians 5:13 (NIV) "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (14) For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself. (15) If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (16) So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (19) The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (21) and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.(25) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Do you see what I mean? These verses, when read together actually give us the "entire law". We are taught to walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh, and that these are contrary to one another. Not only are the fruit of the Spirit listed here but also the acts of the flesh (v.19) and with these a warning that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. This comparison is intentional and meant to be read together. I believe that the fruit of the Spirit is the crop, the harvest, and the result of living by the Spirit and not the flesh. I believe that this scripture is showing us to look at ourselves, to look at the fruit in our lives. Our fruit is a barometer for where we are spiritually. Are we manifesting, for example, gentleness and self-control? Are we throwing fits of rage or blinded by selfish ambition? How we answer these questions are an indication of the types of seeds we have planted and the types of harvest we can expect to reap. The fruit doesn't lie. James 3:12 (NIV) "My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

My prayer is that we will plant seeds of the Spirit by serving one another humbly in love, walking by His Spirit, and resisting the desires of the flesh, so that we may reap the fruit of the Spirit.

12.18.2015 - Sin is Sin
Last night during a dream, I heard "Sin is Sin". This led me study the topic "Are all sins equal?" I have heard people say that all sin is equal in God's eyes, but is this really true? Let's explore this together. Are all sins equal?" The short answer has to be "No". The reason is because all sin would include what is known as the unpardonable sin. Luke 12:10 (NIV) says, "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." So, it follows that if some sins are forgivable and one is not, that all sins must not be viewed equally. With that in mind, let's dig a little deeper, and ask the question a little differently: "Are all forgivable sins treated equally?"

First, I think we should probably start by defining sin. James 4:17 (NIV) says "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." 1 John 5:17(KJV) "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." When asked what a sin is, Billy Graham gave the following answer: A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.

The Bible actually uses a number of examples or “word pictures” to illustrate what this means. For example, it tells us that sin is like an archer who misses the target. He draws back his bow and sends the arrow on its way—but instead of hitting the bull’s-eye, it veers off course and misses the mark. The arrow may only miss it a little bit or it may miss it a great deal—but the result is the same: The arrow doesn’t land where it is supposed to.

The same is true of sin. God’s will is like the center of that target—and when we sin, we fall short of His will or miss the mark. And this is something we do every day; as the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even when we aren’t aware of it, we commit sin by the things we do (or fail to do), or by the way we think.

This is why we need Christ, for only He can forgive us all our sins, and only He can help us live the way we should. We can’t forgive ourselves, nor can we change our hearts and make ourselves better in God’s eyes.

Mr. Graham has also been asked whether all sins are equal in God’s eyes. This was his answer:

It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.

At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people. Sins may also differ at their root.

Theologians have sought for centuries to determine what the essence of sin is. Some have chosen sensuality, others selfishness, and still others pride or unbelief. In the Old Testament, God applied different penalties to different sins, suggesting variations in the seriousness of some sins. A thief paid restitution; an occult practitioner was cut off from Israel; one who committed adultery or a homosexual act or cursed his parents was put to death (see Exodus, chapter 22 and Leviticus, chapter 20).

In the New Testament Jesus said it would be more bearable on the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum because of Capernaum’s unbelief and refusal to repent after witnessing His miracles (Matthew 11:23-24). The sins of Sodom were identified in Ezekiel 16:49-50 as arrogance, gluttony, indifference to the poor and needy, haughtiness, and “detestable things.”

When Jesus spoke of his second coming and judgment, he warned that among those deserving punishment some would “be beaten with many blows” and others “with few blows” (Luke 12:47-48). He also reserved His most fierce denunciations for the pride and unbelief of the religious leaders, not the sexually immoral (Matthew 23:13-36).

I think that it is clear that all sins are not viewed or treated equally.

However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life.

You can read the full Bill Graham article here.

12.17.2015 - His Presence
I am feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly right now that I feel led to write about His presence. Since I have begun the journey of writing, I have felt the Holy Spirit more intensely and more often. Out of pride, I thought that after all these years as a Christian that I must have somehow reached a pinnacle in my Christian faith. I thought that I prayed enough, studied enough, and heard from God as often as I was supposed to. I was wrong. I was very wrong. I am realizing now that I haven't even scratched the surface!

Even as I am writing this I feel the Holy Spirit urging me to press on with this because it is from Him. He has so much more for us! He wants us to be in His presence more. So much more. One mistake I made was in thinking that I was waiting on God to be in His presence. Don't wait for an opportunity to be in His presence. We are called to seek Him. Seek is an action verb and it is to be done continually. Psalm 105:4 (KJV) says "Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore." The NLT says that we should "continually seek him" and the NIV says that we should "seek his face always". Whatever the translation, the message is very clear. We are to seek him continually, always, and forever.

The question for us today is "Are we seeking Him continually?". If I am being honest, as much as I want to say "Yes", my answer would have to be "No". I see the power in continually seeking Him and I am striving for that state of being in His presence continuously but I know that I am not there yet. Maybe you are in a similar place. I can tell you, from personal experience, that I am amazed at how much more I am in His presence now that I am seeking Him daily. Praying consistently, resisting the devil, acting in obedience, studying His word and following His lead has made a tremendous difference in my life in a very short amount of time. I am seeing a direct relationship between the amount of time I am in His presence with the amount of effort I am putting in seeking Him and being obedient to Him.

How would our body's react if we ate only once a week or once a month or even every other day? Do you think our relationships would improve by investing less and less time in them? I think it's the same way with God. If we want to be in His presence continually then we have to seek Him continually.

My prayer for us today is that we will begin to seek to be in His presence continually and that we will begin to experience the kind of relationship with Him that He designed us for.

12.16.2015 - God is Faithful
In a recent blog, we looked at how our faith is the key to activating the power of Christ inside of us. Today I want to look at God's faithfulness. If you think about it, our faith is based on God. What is God's faith based on? Himself. This, as a creation, people who are created, is a hard concept to grasp. He is the creator. He always was and always will be. There is none before Him and none like Him AND He is ALWAYS faithful. He is absolute. He never changes and He never will. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Noah had faith and God was faithful to save his family, Abraham had faith and because God was faithful he became the father of nations. Sarah had faith and had a child at a very old age because God was faithful, Isaac had faith and blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future and God was faithful, Joseph had faith and spoke about the exodus of the Israelites and God was faithful, Moses' parents had faith and hid him for three months and God was faithful, Moses had faith and refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and God was faithful, Moses left Egypt, kept the Passover and the application of blood, and passed through the Red Sea as on dry land because God was faithful. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, kingdoms have been conquered, justice has been administered, lion's mouths have been shut, the sick have been healed, the lame started walking, the blind could see, sinners and have been forgiven, and the dead have been raised BECAUSE GOD IS FAITHFUL. Once you understand that God is always faithful it becomes so much easier to trust in Him. On the other side of our faith is a God who is ALWAYS faithful. Apply this to your circumstances, your prayers, your actions, your daily lives and know that God is always faithful.

Let's take a look in scripture:

Deuteronomy 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,"

Psalms 36:5 "Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."

Psalms 89:8 "O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?"

Psalms 119:90 "Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast."

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

Lamentations 3:22-23 "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."

Hebrews 10:23 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."

I pray that this word will minister to you. Take comfort in knowing that God is never changing and ALWAYS faithful and ALWAYS true to His word. Trust in Him and know that He is ALWAYS faithful!

12.15.2015 - The Plan of Salvation
The Holy Spirit impressed upon me today to write about salvation. For many of us who live in the "buckle of the Bible belt", it may be hard to imagine that there are still those out there who have never heard the name of Jesus or the plan of salvation. However, this is truly a matter of eternal life or eternal death and a message that is meant to be shared. If you are a subscriber of this blog, please forward this email and encourage others to forward it as well.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I want to show you how. It is really very simple but it is also the best decision you can ever make and one that will change your life forever. Please keep reading. This is very important.

THE PLAN OF SALVATION:

Admit that you have sinned.
Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to cleanse you of your sins.
Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Pray this prayer out loud: God, I am a sinner. I have done things that I am not proud of and I want to be free from sin. I believe that your son died on a cross to save me from my sin and rose from the grave. I declare that Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life. I give my life to you. Please use me. Thank you Lord for saving me.

That's really all there is to it! If you admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died to save you from your sins, and confess that Jesus is Lord then you are saved! If you prayed that prayer, the Bible tells us that you will not perish, but have eternal life!

John 3:16 tells us: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.".

And Romans 10:13 tells us that "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

For more information on salvation, go to: God's Simple Plan.

12.14.2015 - Your Faith is the Key
If you are familiar with the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34), you may remember that she had been subject to bleeding for twelve years and suffered greatly. She had been to many doctors and spent all her money but only grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him and touched his cloak, because she thought "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Jesus said to her "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that the power was not in Jesus clothes but IN Jesus and it was ACTIVATED through the faith of the woman who believed that if she touched his clothes she would be healed. "Daughter your FAITH has healed you". Had she believed that if she touched his hair or hand or simply that she was healed by Jesus she would have been. This is a testament to how powerful our faith in Christ really is. All we have to do is to believe and we too can tap into His power.

When I realized that this power, activated by faith, is already in us, it was revelatory to me. I have experienced the power of faith but don't think I fully realized that the power was in me. Does that make sense? I prayed in faith, expectantly, and received, but didn't really understand that I was calling on a power inside of me. If you have Jesus in your heart, you have POWER living inside of you. If you believe in Jesus, POWERFUL things will happen and you are carrying that power around with you wherever you go! Let me show you what I found. Notice that in each case it was the person's faith that always preceded the miracle.

Matthew 9:2 (NIV)
Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:22 (NIV)
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Matthew 9:29 (NIV)
Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you"

Matthew 15:28 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Matthew 21:21 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

Mark 2:5 (NIV)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 5:34 (NIV)
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 10:52 (NIV)
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Luke 5:20 (NIV)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 7:50 (NIV)
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 8:48 (NIV)
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Luke 18:42 (NIV)
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.

Reading these scriptures through the lens of "your faith" was definitely an eye-opener for me. How did I miss this? The evidence is everywhere.

Noah had faith that saved his family, Abraham had faith and became the father of nations, Sarah had faith and had a child at a very old age, Isaac had faith and blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future, Joseph had faith and spoke about the exodus of the Israelites, Moses' parents had faith and hid him for three months, Moses had faith and refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, left Egypt, kept the Passover and the application of blood, and passed through the Red Sea as on dry land. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, kingdoms have been conquered, justice has been administered, lion's mouths have been shut, the sick have been healed, the lame started walking, the blind could see, sinners have been forgiven, and the dead have been raised!!!!

Our salvation begins with faith. Romans 10:10 (NIV) "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." and I believe that is just the beginning.

The Bible says that faith is of greater worth than gold. 1 Peter 1:7 (NIV) "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

And the Bible tells us that we must have faith to please God. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

My prayer for you today is that through this the Holy Spirit will reveal to you the importance and significance of your faith. Your faith is the key to miracles in your life. Use your key!

12.13.2015 - Immortality
Many times the Holy Spirit teaches me by showing me words, acronyms, acrostics, or double-meanings of words. The one I want to share with you today is at the top of my list. I have been saving this one. Get ready, because it is Awesome! Thank you Lord for sharing this with us.

The word Immortality means "the ability to live forever; eternal life" and we know that eternal life can only come from salvation through Jesus who died on a cross so that we might be saved.

The Holy Spirit revealed to me that the word Immortality has a cross in the middle of it! Wait, What? Yes, look at the word again, Immortality has a lower-case "t", a cross, in the middle of the word. When I first looked at the word, it didn't seem like it was in the middle, but I knew what I heard. I counted the letters and was amazed to discover that the word immortality has 11 letters and that the cross is precisely in the center! Wow, how amazing is this? Also, the cross is the 6th letter in the word which is also significant. In the Bible, the number 6 symbolizes man and human weakness which is why the cross is necessary!

To receive immortality you must have Jesus which is represented by the cross! I was amazed at this! But then, the Holy Spirit took it one step further. He led me to take the cross out of the word. When I removed the cross from the center of the word immortality, the word became "immorality" which means "the state or quality of being immoral; wickedness". WOW!!! This completely blew me away. With the cross there is eternal life. Without the cross there is only wickedness. This is a perfect picture of the impact of salvation. To this day I have a hard time wrapping my brain around this so I don't try. I just thank God for His infinite wisdom.

Only when the cross is present is immortality possible! When the cross is absent only immorality remains. God put the cross square in the middle of immorality and created immortality!!! I believe that this is a great example of how God works. He takes something that is bad and He touches it and it becomes transformed into something new and good.

I believe that it is our mission to tell people that the cross is the key to immortality!

12.12.2015 - Pray Positively
This morning I went downstairs to kiss the girls goodbye before school and Carley was wearing a sweatshirt and yoga pants. She said "I get to wear this today because I am presenting". For her High School Senior project, she has been taking tumbling classes and today she actually has to give a presentation and tumble in front of her class. I said "Can I pray for you?". She said "Sure". I hugged her while I prayed and I prayed that the Holy Spirit would be with her and that she would tumble to the best of her ability and that she would not be nervous.

As I walked back upstairs, continuing to pray for her, the Holy Spirit gently tugged at my heart and showed me that I should pray "positively". I had never really thought about this before. But then He showed me that by praying that she would "not be nervous" I was putting the focus on something negative. When she remembers the prayer, I do not want her to dwell on the word "nervous". The Holy Spirit showed me that I should have prayed that she "would have confidence". Wow! I had never considered this before but it makes so much sense. Thank you Lord for showing me this! Speak life!

Then I thought about the difference in sports between focusing on winning vs. not losing. This may seem like a subtle difference but these are two completely different mindsets and can result in two completely different outcomes. The reason? Focusing on "not losing" comes from fear. Fear is not of the Lord and is the opposite of faith. Focusing on winning is a faith-based emotion. Faith in your team, faith in yourself, Faith in God.

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

The Bible doesn’t tell us to "not think about lies", "not think about what is dishonoring", or "not think about what is wrong". It is not phrased like that at all. What it says is: Whatever is "true", whatever is "noble", whatever is "right"…think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "Finally, brothers and sisters, 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."

God doesn't want our goal to be "not to fail" or "not to be poor" or "not to die". He wants us to succeed, He wants us to prosper and He wants us to live and to live life abundantly! Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Focus on good things, be positive, speak life, live abundantly, and pray positively!

12.11.2015 - Abide
As I was reading tonight from the book Good Morning, Holy Spirit by Benny Hinn, I read the following words: "The presence of the Spirit became so powerful in Stephen's life that he was able to look up and see God's glory". Something about the words "presence of the Spirit" seemed to jump off the page. These words seemed to have special significance. I looked at them again and again. Then I realized that these words describe my passion. This is what I want more than anything. The thing I long for most is to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. My pursuit is simply Him. God promises in Psalm 37:4 that if we delight in Him, he will give us the desires of our heart. I had a moment tonight where it was abundantly clear to me just how much I want to get in, be in, dwell in, and to remain in, His presence. This is my heart's desire.

As I was thinking on this and continuing to read, I saw the word "Abide" and it kept playing over and over in my mind. I felt that the Holy Spirit was speaking this word to me. Mediate on this word for a moment. There is something very special about it.

I went to the Bible and was surprised to see just how many times and how many ways the word abide is used. I saw abide in the street, abide at the door, abide in your cities, abide in their coast, abide here, abide forever, abide with us, abide at the brook, abide in tents, abide with the king, abide now at home, abide in the siege, abide in the paths, abide in the covert, abide by thy crib, abide in thy tabernacle, and more. Wow, that is a lot of abiding. So what exactly does abide mean?

Still trying to understand this, I looked it up and found that it is an Old English word signifying progressively to "await," "remain," "lodge," "sojourn," "dwell," "continue," "endure". Wow! Now I understand. What the Holy Spirit has been giving me a desire for, and is now leading me to, is to ABIDE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. Message received!

The Lord wants us to seek Him, find Him, AND ABIDE in Him. I think we may focus too many times on seeking only. Other times we may find Him but only temporarily. I believe that His desire is for us to seek Him, find Him, and stay there; remain, lodge, dwell, continue, endure, ABIDE in Him. Read the following scriptures and notice the use of the word ABIDE:

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

John 14:16 (KJV)
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may ABIDE with you forever;"

John 15:4 (KJV)
"ABIDE in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it ABIDE in the vine; no more can ye, except ye ABIDE in me."

John 15:7 (KJV)
"If ye ABIDE in me, and my words ABIDE in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

John 15:10 (KJV)
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall ABIDE in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and ABIDE in his love."

1Corinthians 7:24 (KJV)
"Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein ABIDE with God."

We are called to Abide in Him!

My prayer for you today is that you will seek Him, Find Him, and Abide in Him.

12.10.2015 - Thought Life
Over the years the Lord has shown me a very effective way to protect my mind from dwelling on evil thoughts and this is what I feel led to share with you today. It is really very simple but it is also a very powerful tool in the battle to have a pure thought life.

First of all, it's important to realize that the devil cannot read your mind, however, he will try to plant evil thoughts and desires in your mind in an attempt to get you to dwell there on your own. Allowing yourself to dwell on evil thoughts, be it lust, greed, pride, or anything else that is not from God, is the gateway to sin, and sin leads to death. Romans 6:23 (NIV) "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The good news is that we have a powerful weapon against these unwanted thoughts and its name is RESISTANCE. James 4:7 (NIV): "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Before we move on, I would like to point out that many times we hear this scripture quoted as just "Resist the devil and he will flee" but that is only the second half of the scripture. The first part, and the part which has to happen first, is that we submit ourselves to God, THEN we resist the devil and THEN he will HAVE to flee! Please understand that it is God the devil is fleeing from and not us. It is Jesus in us that causes the devil to run. When we submit to God and resist the devil, the devil has no other option, he has to go. Why? Because God said so. Adios!

So here is the technique. Let's say that you have a thought against someone. The first thing you should do is take a step back and look at the thought in your mind. Analyze it. Ask the question, is this from God? Usually if you are having to ask this question, in my experience, it is not. Once I determine that it is not from God, I picture in my mind a big REJECT button and I push it. By asking if it's from God I am submitting to only what will please Him, and by pushing the REJECT button I am resisting the devil. Once the Reject button is pushed, the thought is exterminated, vaporized, annihilated, blown to smithereens! It is gone forever.

Take control of your thought life today by paying attention to what you allow to enter your mind, ask is it of God, and if not, Reject it. You are in control.

My prayer for you today is that you will have discernment to know what is not from God and that you will have a healthy thought life which will lead you to a closer relationship with Him.

12.09.2015 - Your Teeth
Okay, I truly have no idea where this is going. This is definitely a leap of faith, but after I prayed and asked the Lord what He would have me to write about, I heard "Write about your teeth". I have faith. Here we go.

Your teeth are something that you may not think much about but they are always there, or at least you hope they are. You need them to eat. Without them you will not be satisfied, you will be frustrated, and you will not like yourself very much. So it is with God. You may not think much about Him until you need Him, but if you don't pay attention to Him daily, you will not be satisfied, you will be frustrated, and you will not have the smile that you could have!

This may seem like an odd comparison, but I believe that it is from the Lord and I am betting one that you will remember. So how about this. Every time you brush your teeth, think about the Lord. Think about how you need Him even more than you need your teeth. Think about how He wants a relationship with you and that He loves you. Don't let days go by without spending time with Him any more than you would let days go by without brushing your teeth.

My prayer is that you will be reminded of the Lord and His goodness throughout the day regardless of what you are doing.

12.08.2015 - The Armor of God
One of the things that I love most about writing this blog are moments like the one I am having right now. I can feel the Holy Spirit. I have just prayed the He would give me something to write and I heard him say "The Armor of God" but that is all I know. In my spirit, I said "I have nothing". I am an empty vessel about to begin writing what the Author has to say. This is very exciting to me!

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." The armor of God is a physical picture of our spiritual person and designed to teach us how to prepare ourselves to fight spiritual battles.

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:11 that we are to put on the "whole" or "full" armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) gives us the description of the armor of God:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When I read this in its entirety, the first thing that I noticed was that the word "stand" is used multiple times. I believe that this is significant. God is not calling us to put on armor and hide in the woods. He is not calling us to put on armor and retreat. He is not calling us to put on armor and feel defeated. What He is calling us to do is to put on the FULL armor of God and STAND. He wants us to be fully prepared for battle and He wants us in the fight. Thank you Lord for that word!

Next, the Holy Spirit showed me that He is our general and we are his foot soldiers. He has given us instructions as to what we should wear to be prepared for battle. The authority and power to do battle comes from Him. The picture I have of a foot soldier is one on the frontline, out on a battlefield, in hand-to-hand combat. This is definitely a picture of action. Putting the armor on is the FIRST thing we are to do but not the ONLY thing. The point of putting armor on is to do battle. Let's get our armor on and USE it.

So what does this actually mean? How do we put on spiritual armor and how do we fight spiritual battles? I am glad you asked. The Holy Spirit showed me that to obtain a piece of spiritual armor we must consider what it protects in the physical sense. For example, to obtain the breastplate of righteousness (which protects the heart) we must have a righteous heart. To obtain the helmet of salvation, which protects the brain, we must have the mind of Christ, which comes from salvation. To obtain the belt of truth (or loins girt about with truth in the KJV), we must live a godly, pure life, free from sexual immorality. To have your feet fitted with the preparation of the gospel of peace, I believe this is referring to the spreading of the gospel. To obtain the sword of the Spirit, we must stand on His Word. And finally we are called to take up the shield of faith which I believe is self-evident. We must have and operate in faith.

What I find interesting about the wording regarding the shield of faith are the words "In addition to all" or "above all" …"take the shield of faith." Faith is singled out for a reason. I believe a reason a person would hide behind a shield would be because they were under attack. (v16) "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Another reason could be that the soldier is injured and in a defensive posture. He could be hurting, catching his breath, possibly recovering from a previous battle. He may have found himself in a situation where he does not know how to defeat the enemy, so he is standing behind his best defense.

We are told to put on the whole armor of God for a reason. All the parts are important and work together. I believe that God singled out faith for a reason. When you don't know what else to do, have faith. Stand in faith. Operate in faith. Act on your faith. And remember, these types of battles are not won as physical battles are won. They are won through surrender. Surrender to God and resist the enemy.

My prayer for you today is that you will meditate and pray on the armor of God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas where your armor may need work. As you do this, raise your shield of faith and allow God to equip you and to use you in a mighty way.

12.07.2015 - Do not Judge
The Holy Spirit showed me that it is impossible to misjudge someone without first judging them. Let that sink in.

We are commanded in the gospel of Luke not to judge: Luke 6:37 (NIV) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

I think we have to be very careful here. If we judge, condemn, or do not forgive, we have assumed a role which we have no right to and we will be judged, condemned, and we will be in sin. WARNING: This is a trap!

Do you ask for forgiveness of your sins but have unforgiveness in your heart? Do you judge others by what you see but expect God to judge you by your heart? Do you read the Bible or hear about situations where a law has been broken or a sin has been committed and you immediately think of someone other than yourself? I know I have and the Holy Spirit has convicted me of this.

Years ago, I was standing in line at a liquor store…are you judging? Hopefully not. I remember waiting in line with 6 or 7 other people and began looking around. I noticed ahead of me in line was a prominent pastor in town. Whoa! I couldn't believe this. Wait, this was the pastor of my parents church! I had to call them and tell them! He was smiling and talking to the people in line. Wow, this guy was bold. Maybe he feels that drinking in moderation is okay. Maybe he is not concerned with setting a bad example. If I recognize him I know others will. All these thoughts flooded my mind. I was still pondering this as the line moved forward and he walked up to the counter. I watched him closely as he handed the cashier a dollar bill and received 4 quarters in return. He turned on his heels and walked out the same way he came in. Wow. He was going next door to the car wash and was just in the liquor store to get change. Then it hit me. Why was I in the liquor store line? Oops. Now who was right and who was wrong? I realized that I was judging the pastor based on what I saw and not by his motives. I don't believe in coincidence and this was no exception.

The Lord taught me a valuable lesson that day. The Lord sees our heart and He alone sits on the judgment seat. Isaiah 33:22 (NIV) "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us." Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV) "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve."

I believing that judging is part of the "pride trap". It's one of those things that is so commonplace, so culturally acceptable, so subtle, that if we are not careful, we step right in. Don't do it. The Word is clear about the consequences.

I have heard my pastor say "When reading the Bible, do not put others in the context of what is being taught. Insert yourself, your name into its context so that you do not judge others but judge yourself." I really like this. If you catch yourself making assumptions or judgments about people, ask for forgiveness. Not only is judging not our job, but it is a sin. I am adding to my prayer list today "Please help me not to be judgmental."

12.06.2015 - God's Way
This morning I was thinking about how God has an infinitely greater understanding of how all things work together, vastly more intricate and complex than we could possibly comprehend or foresee. His ways are higher than our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

And yet, even with this knowledge, when we come to a crossroads where His voice and our voice do not agree, we (ok I) sometimes struggle or at least hesitate with which path to take. What I am learning from these experiences is simply to have faith and follow God's lead and leave the rest up to Him.

Take the writing of this blog for example. To me it has become so much more than just a blog. Because He had me do this, I believe that I am fulfilling a calling. I am spending time studying, reading, and praying in support of writing the blog. These are things that I should have been doing all along. This one action, out of obedience, is resulting in multiple prayers being answered and I know now that this was God's plan all along. A consistent prayer of mine is that I would be closer to God, check. Lord please help me to fulfill your calling and bring glory to you, check. Help me to study more, pray more, praise you more, write more, check, check, check, check. Do you see what I mean? One small act of obedience doing things God's way is monumentally better than attempting to do things our way!!! Had I tried to do this, or anything else, my own way or in a different way it wouldn’t have been the same. This is again a reinforcement of the fact that God's way is so much better than our way.

Give in to God's way. Let go of ALL pride. Our way is not superior to God's way EVER. Just because we can comprehend "A way" does not make it "His way". Follow His lead today in faith and expect something amazing and miraculous to happen!

12.05.2015 - Know your Gifts
I was on my way to work yesterday morning and began singing along to the song on the radio. The singer hit a high note and I caught myself trying to sing along as high as I could and found myself even trying to sing the runs. In my head I was thinking "that was pretty good." Then I heard the Holy Spirit say "Remember that I have called you to write". That made me laugh and I thought about how God really does have a sense of humor. The Holy Spirit also used this to impress upon me to write about the importance of knowing your gifts.

The gifts I am referring to here are Spiritual gifts. See 1 Corinthians 12:2-31 (NIV). The Bible tells us here that there are different kinds of gifts, but they all come from God. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. Some are given wisdom, some knowledge, some faith, some healing, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. It goes on to say that each of us are given gifts and collectively make up the body of Christ and that each gift is of equal importance.

In researching the subject online, I found spiritualgiftstest.com which has a lot of details on the subject and a test you can take to help you determine your spiritual gifts. It categorizes the gifts as Serving Gifts (Administration, Leadership, Exhortation, Mercy, Giving, and Serving), Foundation Gifts (Apostleship, Prophesy, Evangelism, Pastor, and Teaching), Revelatory Gifts (Wisdom, Discernment, Knowledge, and Interpretation of Tongues), and Manifestation Gifts (Tongues, Faith, Healing, and Miracles). See the site for a more detailed description of each gift.

I believe that it is important to recognize the spiritual gifts that you have been given. I like the quote "He who buries his talent is making a grave mistake." Not sure who wrote that but he or she must have read Matthew 5 where a servant buried a talent and it was taken away from them and the Lord called them "wicked" and "lazy".

One of my pastor's favorite verses is Proverbs 22:29: "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men." I believe that when you find your gift and operate in it that it will be pleasing to our King.

My encouragement to you today is to pray that God will reveal to you your unique spiritual gifts and that you will use them for God's glory. If you already know what they are, then my prayer for you is that you will seek to use them every day in the way that God has ordained for you.

12.04.2015 - Swing your Sword!
This morning, I prayed "Lord please equip me to spread your gospel" to which He replied: "I already have". Whoa! The Holy Spirit began revealing to me that I am asking for equipment that I already have. The Lord said "Open your mouth", "Swing your sword", "Run to the battle with the feet I have given you". Wow, I just prayed that the Holy Spirit would give me something to write and He did!

We must USE the tools He has already given us. I see a picture in my mind of a boy covered from head to toe in gold armor. He has a gold helmet, a gold face plate, gold over his shoulders, a gold chest plate, his arms and waist and legs are covered in gold armament. He has a gold shield and a mighty sword. He has so much heavy gold armor that he can barely take a step and yet he is praying: "Lord if you will only equip me with more armor". Is that me? Is that you? Is our toolbox full of tools, yet we continue to pray for more tools instead of using the ones we have?

In contrast, think of David and his slingshot. He had one tool and that was all he needed. One tool in action is greater than many tools collecting dust.

I believe that it is very important to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17) but equally important to realize WHY we are putting it on. We are putting on spiritual armor to do spiritual battle. The Lord did not give us the sword of the Sprit to store under our bed or hang over our mantle. He gave us a sword to use as a weapon to swing IN BATTLE.

Pray about this. The Holy Spirit may reveal to you that you already have tools that you are not using. I believe that this is a call to action. Take inventory of the gifts you have been given and pray about how God wants you to use them today. Swing your sword!

12.03.2015 - The Power of the Tongue
Since I starting writing this blog, I have added to my daily prayer "Lord, please give me something to write today." Initially, I had written "Lord please give me something good to write today" but realized that if it comes from the Lord, it is already good. James 1:17 (NIV) "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows". When I asked what to write this morning, I heard the Holy Spirit say "How about tongues?" So out of obedience here goes…

My first thought on this subject was my parents; strong Christians who believe strongly in the power of the tongue, and with good reason. If I ever let words like "I am so sick of…" come out of my mouth, I knew I was going to get a stern rebuke and a mini-sermon from my father on the power of the tongue. So I have to give credit where credit is due. I am the product of parents who understood the importance and power of all spoken words, both positive and negative.

In a previous journal entry I wrote "As I was praying on my way to work and talking to God about how I recognized my weaknesses, He spoke to me and said 'Do not claim your weaknesses, declare my strength.'" I think that this is a perfect example of how God wants us to think and how our words should follow.

So here is the question: Do you want to fuel your weaknesses or make a declaration of God's strength? Which one do you want to allow power in your life? Your weakness or God's strength? It's your choice and I believe that you can have either one. Pro 18:21 (NIV) "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

It reminds me of a story I once heard about a guy talking to his dentist. He asked "Do I have to floss between all my teeth?" To which the dentist answered "No, only the one's you want to keep". So it is with our words, so choose life! Deu 30:19 (NIV) "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live"

So we must always remember that the words we speak can produce life or death. Speak life!

12.02.2015 - Follow God's Plan
I found a blog entry from over a year ago which really spoke to me this morning. The Lord called me to write and I was very excited, but I tried to get ahead of God. I took what I heard from Him, but then started trying to do it my way. I have since realized that we must listen for God's plan, hear God's plan, and follow God's plan. We cannot pick and choose. In my case, I believe that God simply wanted me to listen and write, so that is what I am doing today. Here is what I wrote over a year ago:

"I was listening to Romans and Corinthians on my phone as I was getting ready this morning and heard how our intelligence is foolish to the Lord. I am paraphrasing but the idea was that even the most brilliant human's intellect does not compare to God's wisdom. Then it struck me. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. "I did not call you because you are brilliant, I called you because you are not." God wants to use me! That is far more exciting than being brilliant AND if I seek His wisdom and not man's, His words will have a much greater impact anyway. When God called me to write I was so excited. I started doing research online, buying books, etc. but then I realized, that if I was just going to follow what others had done, what was special about that? This is not about a 10 step process on how to properly write a book or about seeing my picture on the back of a published book or about me at all! It is about God's glory. I am just a guy willing to listen and put pen to paper. This is actually such a relief. I was trying to figure out how to afford going back to school. The Lord still may prompt me to do that but I also know that He told me that He just wants me to write, so for now, my goal, my mission, is simply to listen and write."

I also learned from this that God may call you to do something small or it may be that He wants you to start small. Either way, do whatever God tells you to do in whatever way God leads you to do it. Otherwise, you are being presumptuous and attempting to do God's work by your own strength and in your own way.

Let Him lead you and follow His plan. He has made us all for a purpose.

12.01.2015 - Light your Dynamite
I have always wondered about why God tells us to fear Him. That always seemed strange but the Holy spirit impressed upon me this morning that if I trust His word, and fear Him alone, that I am allowing His power to work in my life. He said that whatever you fear is what you give power to in your life!!!!!

He also showed me that prayer is like dynamite and that faith is the spark. I lit a prayer from several years ago by acting in faith (not fear) and WOW was the prayer answered. Then He showed me that I have a closet full of dynamite!!!!!

Fear God alone and He will have power in your life and everything else will be powerless.

Have you prayed prayers of faith but not ignited them with action? If so, then you have a closet full of dynamite too. Here is a great story which reinforces this point from the book Drawing the Circle. It is one of the best books I have read and I highly recommend it.

"When a drought threatened to destroy a season of crops, a rural church with many farmers in the congregation called for an emergency prayer meeting. Dozens of farmers showed up to pray. Most of them wore their traditional overalls, but one of them wore waders! He got a few funny looks, just like Noah did when he was building the ark, but isn't that faith at its finest? If we genuinely believe God is going to answer our prayer for rain, isn't that exactly what we would wear? Why not dress for the miracle? I love the simple, childlike faith of that old, seasoned farmer. He simply said, "I don't want to walk home wet." And he didn't. But everyone else did."

Don't just pray about your dream; act on it. Act as if God is going to deliver on His promise. Maybe it's time to put on waders and act as if God is going to answer. Buy a ticket to the Broadway show you're auditioning for. Buy a new suit for the dream job you've applied for. Buy a piece of furniture for the dream home you've been saving for. Buy a share of stock. Buy a subscription. Buy a book.

Praying in faith but acting in doubt leaves your dynamite in the closet. Pull your dynamite out today (pray) and light it by taking a step of faith and put your fingers in your ears!

11.30.2015 - Temptation
I believe that it's important to have an understanding of the tactics of your enemies to better defend against their attacks. Football coaches have their teams watch videos of their opponent's games, boxers watch videos of their opponents bouts, businesses look for a competitive advantage by first looking at their competitions strategy, military leaders study their enemies capabilities. The list goes on.

This concept seems to exist virtually everywhere but we somehow tend to ignore the tactics of our greatest enemy. Of course there is an explanation for this. One of Satan's tactics is to deceive people into believing that he does not exist. If he doesn't exist, then there is nothing to worry about and nothing to defend against right?. Ignorance is not bliss, it is simply ignorance. Sticking your head in the sand does not protect you it simply exposes you and makes you more vulnerable to attack because you cannot see what is coming.

So let's talk first about our enemy's strategy. The devil's goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. God's desire for us is to have life. John 10:10 (NIV) "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". Knowing this, the devil tries to keep us as far away from God as possible. If we know God, we know the truth and can have eternal life. The devil wants us to be friends with the world (an enemy of God) James 4:4.

In other words, the devil wants us to sin, to fall, just like he did. So he tempts us (a solicitation to do evil) as he tempted Jesus. Mat 4:3. He knows that temptation can lead to sin and the result of sin is death. Rom 6:23 (NIV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What exactly is a temptation? Ordinarily, the word means solicitation to that which is evil, and hence Satan is called "the tempter" (Mat 4:3). Our Lord was in this way tempted in the wilderness. That temptation was not internal, but by a real, active, subtle being. It was not self-sought. It was submitted to as an act of obedience on his part. "Christ was led, driven. An unseen personal force bore him a certain violence is implied in the words" (Mat 4:1-11). This is the temptation.

This also answers the question "Where does temptation come from?". The solicitation to do evil does not come from God, but from the devil. Temptation is a tactic of the enemy and a clear indication that he is at work: James 1:13 (NIV) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;".

Is temptation a sin? No. We know this because Jesus was tempted and we know that Jesus was without sin. 1 Peter 2:22 (NIV) "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."

How do we defend against sin when tempted? This is my favorite part. One of my favorite scriptures in all the Bible is 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

This was a huge revelation to me! When you are being tempted, realize that it's nothing new. It's not something that can beat you unless you let it. You can resist it! God is faithful. God is with you. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear! Remember that. When you are tempted He will provide a way out so that you can endure it! Stand on this when you are tempted. Remember, though the devil is doing the tempting, God will not let the temptation be more than you can endure and God will provide a way out. All you have to do is resist the temptation and ask God to show the way out and He will because He is faithful.

We know the result of sin but what is the result of resisting temptation and not sinning? James 1:12 (KJV) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

What can we do going forward to be strong against temptation? Pray daily that you will not be led into temptation and that you will be delivered from evil. Mat 6:13. Listen carefully to the people in your life and listen for the sound of honor. Avoid situations which may cause you to be tempted. And finally, resist the temptation, ask God for a way out, and then when He shows you, take it!

11.29.2015 - Sap Strata
I run several days a week around lunchtime. In Columbus, in late July, this usually means 80+ degree temperatures. I have been running the same route on the streets around my office for the last several weeks and have a very good sense of my limits. I know exactly when I hit the "wall" and need to walk. I know within a few yards of when I will start sweating, seriously. It's become very familiar to me.

Today, however, was different. It was 75 degrees and felt better when I started but I soon realized that it was going to be the same run with the same hill I have to walk, etc. I set a goal to make it halfway up the hill. The hill is actually a street called "Oneda" and it always seems to be where my "wall" lives. I think of making it to the top as "conquering Oneda". On the very rare occasion when I have ever made it to the top, that's when I walk for a couple of minutes with a feeling of accomplishment. So today, when I hit the wall, I actually could hear myself thinking "I can't make it" and was about to begin walking when I heard the Holy Spirit say "Do you think that I could make you make it?" to which I replied "Yes". Then I saw the arm of God (it looked like a human man's arm but I knew it was His) it was as if it were my own in front of me but I knew it was His. He gestured with His arm and hand in a way as to say go ahead if you trust me you will make it. I knew at that moment that I would make it all the way! Over the wall around the corner down the street up another hill and back to the office without stopping. I had no doubt at all and that is exactly what I did. It occurred to me that I was "putting feet to my faith" literally. This is powerful. God is moved by our faith in action!!!

Rereading this journal entry today I feel compelled to mention Sap Strata. Sap Strata is an artificial, self or other imposed limitation which keeps us from reaching our full potential. The challenge for Christians is to break through these artificial limitations and to experience who we really are in Christ on a daily basis.

I had established a limit for myself which was not real. It wasn't necessarily easy to push through, but I was able and I did.

Probably the best story I have as an example of this comes from a John Maxwell book where I was first introduced to this concept. In the circus, baby elephants are chained to steel posts which are concreted into the ground. They try to break free but cannot. Eventually, they stop trying. Elephants grow to be massive, powerful animals which could easily pull the posts from the ground but the trainers use ropes in place of chains and sticks instead of posts. Why? Because the deception is complete. The elephants do not believe that they can break free so they do not try! They have been deceived! They do not recognize the power that is within them!

Do not be deceived. Do not allow Satan or anyone else to convince you that you cannot break free, excel, push through, move past, move beyond, run further, you fill in the blank.

Let God set your limits!

11.28.2015 - Ignite your faith
In High School, I was on the annual staff and was given a Canon AE1 35mm camera to take pictures with. I remember looking down at the camera hanging around my neck and thinking how expensive it must be and how cool it would be to actually have one of my own. I remember praying "God, I would really like to have one of these someday." standing on Psalm 37:4 (NIV): Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

A couple of years later I made an 18 hour car trek to Mt. Union Pennsylvania for a Creation festival. This was an entire weekend of Christian concerts, camping, prayer, and fellowship. It was a very uplifting experience and I felt the Lord's presence. The following Monday I was supposed to start a job that I was not excited about. It was a menial job but I needed the work. Discussing this on the return trip with a friend from church, Steve, we starting discussing what we would do if we could do anything. We discovered that we both had a love of photography (not a coincidence) and decided that our dream would be to own our own photography studio. We prayed about this and continued on our journey.

When I returned home, I continued praying about the new job but I knew that this was not what I believed was God's best for me. Acting on faith, I made a phone call and let my would-be employer know that I was not coming. As a 19 year old, I remember that this was a difficult call to make. I had no money, no job, and no prospects.

A couple of weeks later, Steve and I decided that we should start socializing the idea of becoming photographers. Our first stop was a local modeling agency. Within a matter of minutes, we were asked "You are photographers aren't you?". We looked at each other and said "Yes." Looking back, that now seems prophetic. We were offered the opportunity to sublet an office and were given exclusive rights to begin taking pictures for the modeling agency.

Within a matter of a short few months, we setup shop, purchased desks, tripods, darkroom equipment, lenses, flashes, backdrops, camera bags, and cameras. We took pictures of models, shot weddings, events, and family portraits. We had a custom sign made with our name on it and we were making a name for ourselves.

And then one day it happened. I remember it was the day that our custom, hand-painted backdrop had finally come in. We had commissioned a local artist to paint it for several hundred dollars, which seemed like a small fortune at the time. As I was thinking about how well things were going, I reached down into my new camera bag filled with lenses, filters, and camera accessories and realized that I had not 1, but 2 Canon AE-1 camera bodies in the bag! Whoa! It hit me. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the prayer. I had prayed for a Canon AE1 camera, and thought at the time that I was pushing the limits of my faith, but now realized that God had chosen to honor that prayer in His way and to give exceedingly, abundantly, more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed. It would be years later before I actually realized why and this is what I want to share with you today.

I have told this story many times always with the focus on the prayer. I did pray in faith and I did believe. This is key. However, faith is fueled by action. Faith without it is dead. James 2:26 (KJV): For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

I think that many times we pray in faith but act in doubt. You cannot have it both ways.

What I realized later was that the key to the answered prayer was not the prayer alone but the faith in action that accompanied it. When I asked for a camera, nothing happened for 2 years. When I trusted God and stepped out on faith, things began to happen immediately!

I believe that faith is like a fireplace. If want a fire, you will need it, but it's no good until you light it!

Take the faith that you have and ignite it today!

11.27.2015 - Pray for everyone you meet
I have an overwhelming desire in my spirit right now to begin a work that will help others. I want to serve others in order to better serve God. I want to see lives changed. I want to walk in the prayer that I pray every day "Please provide opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better". I know that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called!

After reading a chapter in the Draw the Circle Book (a fantastic book by the way) where the author (Mark) prayed for and called out a blessing for everyone he came in contact with, I decided that I would begin doing this. The Holy Spirit had already begun impressing upon me how important it was to pray for others and my morning prayer list has been getting longer and longer. I could tell that my prayers were growing in strength along with my faith. This was a confirmation that I needed to take praying to a new level. I tried this tonight for the first time and it was awesome!!!

I walked into a Subway restaurant on a Saturday night. It was late, after 9pm, and I had expected 2 or 3 people at the most to be in the restaurant. To my amazement, as I approached I saw at least half a dozen people outside and there must have been close to 20 inside! I even remember commenting how I thought there were a lot of people at Subway this late. At that point, I had no idea that the Holy Spirit was going to impress upon me to begin praying for everyone I came in contact with. Now it makes perfect sense! I started by praying for the young man who started to make my sandwich. I prayed for his soul, then I prayed that God would bless him. I immediately had a new perspective about this person who I normally would have been moderately polite to but not overly friendly with. Now, I was seeing this person through God's eyes. I wanted to be nice to him. I wanted him to feel the prayers. I wanted God to bless him. This was a transformative moment. Next was the girl who added the toppings. As I began praying for her, I began to see her differently. This is powerful!!! I go to Subway so much, that I have a routine. I say the exact same thing at the exact same time in the exact same order. This time was different. I felt a softness in my heart and in my voice. I said an extra please and thank you that wasn't part of the routine. This was the Holy Spirit. This is how we are supposed to treat people. Wow! Thank you Jesus. This was a break-thru moment for me! I began praying for the cashier and as I looked around the room I saw fathers and mothers and children, other families, people walking in the door, or walking into view for the first time and I prayed for everyone! As I was leaving, I prayed for everyone I saw. This was an amazing experience. How have I missed this? I may never look at people the same again. Glory to God, I am getting this. I plan to put this into practice wherever I go and I know that God will put people in my path that need the prayer.

Thank you Lord. This is an answer to prayer...opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people!!!! Hallelujah!!!

Try praying for everyone you come in contact with today and don't be surprised when something wonderful happens! I believe God will use your prayers in a mighty way!

11.26.2015 - Spooky Voice
The devil doesn’t speak with a "spooky", evil sounding voice that would be easily identifiable and scare us. He doesn’t want us to run from him he wants us to be drawn to him. So what voice would we listen to? Our own. He makes his voice sound like ours so that we will listen to it. He doesn’t want us to resist and run to God. Instead of trying to sneak up behind us and push us off a cliff he leaves breadcrumbs to lead us where he wants us to go. Like a moth to a flame or an animal to a snare he puts what he knows we want most in a trap and entices, tempts, and manipulates us to go there. He is subtle, not obvious. He wants us to think what we are doing is our idea and not his. He wants us to believe his lies are true so that we accept them. Of course we wouldn’t accept lies or walk willingly into a trap or knowingly listen to a spooky voice. He is the master of disguise and subtly, not overtly, or loudly, or even evil sounding. This, in itself, is part of his deception. Horror movies and the picture of the devil which are commonly accepted are also deceptions. If he can make us believe that evil always looks like a scary monster then he can sneak in something beautiful or shiny and we will not see evil because it doesn’t look like a scary monster.

God, on the other hand is who He says He is. He wants us to believe in Him and He also wants us to be aware that the devil exists and is our enemy. The devil wants us to believe that neither God nor he exists. God gives us clear direction and points us to the light. The devil tries to cloud our judgment with deception and leads us to the darkness disguised as the light. Remember, the devil is a cheap imitation. He is a counter-fit. He tries to copy God, he wants to be God, but his ways are evil and there is no good in him. God leads us to do good openly, the devil leads us to do evil but hides it in a shroud of deception and lies. God sent his son to die for us, the devil sends doubt. God has given us His word to protect us, the devil gives us distraction to keep us from God's Word. God has given us each other to love, cherish, help, and to be in unity with each other, the devil wants us to hate, despise, hurt, and to be in disharmony with each other. God speaks to us in a still, small voice, that sounds like our own voice. The devil tries to mimic God's voice so that we will listen.

Pray for discernment. It is vitally important that you both know who is speaking and that you accept and act on God's voice and that you reject and do not act on the devil's voice. Once you know the difference, when you hear God's voice, take action: Do what He is telling you regardless of how illogical or impossible it may seem. When you hear the devil's voice, take action: Picture in your mind a Reject button. Click it. Say "I reject that thought and I refuse to let it take root" and then dismiss it, forget it and do not repeat it. Even when we do not act on the devil's intentions, if he can get us to think about it or talk about it we have given him a voice. Don't! On the other hand, when God speaks, thank him, accept His word, dwell on it, and talk about it!!!

11.25.2015 - Meekness
I started listening to the Bible on my phone consistently for the past week or so and WOW, what a difference this is making!!! By the way, if you are not getting the Word like you should, consider listening to the Bible on your smartphone with an app such as YouVersion.

God is really starting to reveal some things to me and it is so exciting. This morning, in Psalms, I heard the word "meekness" and I felt led in my spirit to study and meditate on this word. I was led to a great article which confirms what God has been teaching me for years.

The Lord spoke to me some time ago that I should pray for confidence and humility. He has also been teaching me to pray that He would increase and that I would decrease. I also ask forgiveness daily for selfishness and I am trying to be an encouragement to others. God has actually been teaching me meekness without my realizing it. This, too, was part of His plan. The reason, I believe, is because there exists a misconception of the true meaning of meekness and this is what I want to highlight today.

For as long as I can remember when I was unsure of where to start reading in the Bible I would open the Bible and it would land in Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. So many times, in fact, that I would laugh when it happened. I have wondered why and asked God why but never got an answer, but now I know. "The meek will inherit the earth". This is what God has been teaching me! He waited until I had grasped meekness before revealing how He was teaching me meekness and why He kept bringing me back to Matthew 5.

The modern day perception, even definition of meekness found in our English dictionaries associates meekness with weakness listing synonyms such as tame, timid, mild, bland, unambitious, retiring, weak, docile, spiritless, and wimpish. If I thought God was trying to teach me to be weak or wimpy, He knew I would have resisted as these are not of God. 2 Titus 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. However, He knew, and I now I know, that meekness is the opposite of weakness! Do not confuse meekness with weakness as they are vastly different. Read: We know where deception and confusion comes from. God is telling us in His Word that meekness is important and I believe we should listen. Meekness is so important that it is the third characteristic Jesus mentions in His foundational teaching, the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Obviously, the world's ideal of the perfect man is very different from His. The meek are among those so favored that they will share in Jesus' inheritance of the earth.

Not a single one of the modern day synonyms listed above for meekness applies to Jesus Christ or even to Moses, who the Bible claims "was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3, KJV). Do these terms describe the warrior-king David, a man greatly beloved by God? Or Paul, the fearless and tireless apostle, who courageously faced his share and more of dangerous, painful persecutions? No, yet once we understand what biblical meekness is, we can easily see that these men were indeed meek. Meekness, being a fruit of the Spirit, is an attribute of God Almighty Himself and God is not weak!

I have commented before that I would rather have a VW bug with a hot engine rather than a showy car and nothing under the hood. To me that is the picture of meekness. I call it "silent strength". While the perception may be unassuming, the strength is undeniable. I believe that Jesus was meek not weak.

Here are few scriptures referencing meekness.

Psa 22:26 (KJV) The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
Psa 25:9 (KJV) The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
Psa 37:11 (KJV) But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Psa 147:6 (KJV) The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
Psa 149:4 (KJV) For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
Isa 29:19 (KJV) The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Mat 5:5 (KJV) Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

The Word is telling us to be strong (not weak) but to do it in a loving and humble way which is not self-serving. Let us all strive to be meek according to His Word.

11.24.2015 - Subscribe today!
Just wanted to let everyone know that this blog is now available via email! You can subscribe simply by clicking here or by clicking the Subscribe link, at any time, located at the top right of this page. All you have to do is enter your email address. You will begin receiving each blog via email as the blog is updated. I pray that this blog will be a blessing to you and that you will consider subscribing today. Please give it a try. If you don't like it, there is a link at the bottom of the email where you can easily unsubscribe. Have a great day!
11.23.2015 - Listening
When I was in high school, lunch cost 50 cents. I realize how old that probably makes me sound but it's true. I always took 2 quarters to school for lunch. It was just part of my routine. One morning, I remember standing in front of my dresser getting ready for school, when I heard a voice very clearly say "Take an extra 50 cents to school today". Immediately I tried to rationalize this. I knew this was the Lord speaking to me but I guess my mind could not comprehend this. I started questioning why I should take an extra 50 cents to school when I had never done this before. I couldn't imagine what I would need extra money for and why today? I allowed this inner struggle to continue for a few seconds and then decided that if the Lord wanted me to do this, and I believed it was Him speaking to me, then I should. So in faith, I put 2 extra quarters into my jeans pocket and went to school going about my day really kind of forgetting about it. Spoiler alert: When you act on faith something always happens.

Later in the day, I remember walking down a hall behind some lockers and a kid I had never seen before made eye contact with me. He walked right up to me and asked if I had 50 cents I could give him!!! Wow!!! Wait, is this really happening? I pulled out the quarters the Lord had instructed me to bring and handed them to him. As I walked away, I am sure I must have been shaking my head at what had just happened. The Lord knew ahead of time exactly how this was going to play out. Of course He did!

In 4 years of high school, this was the only day that anyone ever asked me for money. Also, I thought I knew everyone at my school but had never seen this kid before and never saw him again. My daughter Bailey said that this might have been an angel. Considering how this happened, I would not be surprised. I really believe that this was a test of obedience and a lesson in listening to the Lord.

Over the years, the Holy Spirit has spoken to me many times in various situations. I am happy to say that I listened and followed the Lord's voice most of the time. In every case where I listened, the outcome was miraculous. Events unfolded which I could have never foreseen and the Lord's hand was clearly at work. Unfortunately, there were times, when I heard His voice and resisted. In every case I regretted it.

From these experiences, I have learned several things. One, you must be able to recognize the Lord's voice when He speaks to you. Secondly, you must trust that what He is telling you is the truth and realize that He only wants what is best for you. And finally, do not try to rationalize what He is saying because His ways are not our ways. Simply have faith in Him and act on what He is telling you.

I think it is important to point out that God communicates to us in a variety of ways. It may be a "still small voice" as He spoke to Elijah. It could be through the writers of Scripture. It could be through visions and dreams or pastors and preachers. He is not limited in the ways He can communicate with us. The important thing is that we recognize His voice, have faith in Him, and act accordingly.

11.22.2015 - What is fueling that?
In a dream, the devil began planting ideas in my head about someone. Negative thoughts about what they would do or were doing to hurt me. God spoke to me and asked "What is fueling that?" I thought about it and knew that it was from the devil so I said "the devil". The devil then tried again, to which God said, what is fueling that? Same answer. What God was teaching me was that you should look at what or who is behind something to determine if it can be trusted. He was teaching me discernment by asking the question "What is fueling that?".

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that when a thought enters my mind to ask the question "What is fueling that?". If the answer is "the devil" then I respond with "reject" and I no longer think on that and the thought goes away. If the answer to what is fueling that is "The Holy Spirit" then I answer "Accept" and allow the thought process to continue knowing it is from God. This morning I also realized that this can apply to decisions. Should I play Christian music while I get ready? What is fueling that? If the answer is "The Holy Spirit" then the response should be to act. If the answer is "The devil". Then the response should be not to act. I found this very freeing. I simply have thoughts and make decisions based on what fuels them and follow the Holy Spirit's guidance. This is awesome!

Vision: I saw in my rearview mirror a miniature (open at the top for people to get in, yet empty) but sinister looking train with the face of a dragon with bright red and yellow colors following me onto the highway. Where I went it went. I knew it was evil and that it would keep following me. I turned around (in the spirit) to confront it. I was standing on the road facing the dragon train and demons (dark shadow-like, faceless creatures) began coming from behind the train as if there were a gang getting out of a car ready to fight. At that moment a magnificent creature came from behind me, it had to be over a 100 feet tall, wings came out of its back and expanded to each side at least 100 feet each. It was so huge I could only see parts of it. The demons, who now seemed impish and 3ft tall turned and ran. Without even taking a step, I could see the massive creature's foot (bird like but enormous - easily the foot alone was 3 times the length of the dragon train) come down on top of the train with a destructive force so intense that it crushed the train into the ground until it was completely flat. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the warrior vanished. God showed me that this was my warring angel and that it had great power and that I had nothing to fear and that I should fear no thing. What a wonderful vision! He also showed me that the angel did not appear until I confronted the evil and took a stand against it!

I saw snapshots of other things in my life that I feared or were things where I was seeking answers. In each still image, whatever the obstacle, it was instantly crushed by the foot of the warrior. Over and over again. Everything I could think of that I needed an answer on or a touch from God He crushed it. It was as if He answered all my prayers in a matter of seconds. What an AWESOME God we serve!

I spent some time thanking and praising Him this morning for this and I am so grateful that He has provided a sacrifice for us in His son Jesus so that we can serve Him and love Him and draw closer to Him. And He will protect us. He will answer our prayers but He does it in His time and in His way. After this, I realized that I had not been in the word and yet God was showing me a vision! He then told me that I cannot control when I will see visions or when He will speak or when He will be quiet. The spirit ebbs and flows and the word of God lives in my heart. Do not believe that you are weak when you are strong!

Begin to use this tool of discernment in your life today. Start asking the question "What is fueling that?" and hit the Accept or Reject button accordingly.

11.21.2015 - Perspective
In a dream, the Lord showed me that the world says "We are creatures of habit", however, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that "…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Then He showed me the image of a parking lot. I had parked my car and returned but did not know where it was. I was, of course, looking from ground level and saw a sea of cars. Then it was as if the world turned on its axis and I was above all the cars. Then I could easily see my car. He said that what you see is a matter of perspective.

Let's ponder for a moment why the things we hear and see as normal in this world today run contrary to God's Word. Why is this? There is a very good reason. God has given us the truth but we have an enemy who is a thief and a liar. He wants to steal the truth from us. John 10:10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Satan does not want you to know God's truth, he wants you to believe his lie. If you know the truth you will have freedom and life. But Satan's goal for you is bondage, poverty, and destruction. He is a deceiver and wants your perspective to be the world's perception of reality not the truth.

So how do we combat the worldly perspective? I say if you want the truth, go to the source! The Bible doesn't tell us that Jesus knows the way, it tells us that He IS the way. He IS Truth. He IS Life. John 14:6 (NIV): Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So my answer is live for Jesus. Focus on Him and you will know truth.

This reminds me of something my pastor says: "Jesus isn't the best way to heaven, He is the ONLY way." How true.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you and protect you from worldly corruption in order to please Him. Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And finally, don't let the world determine what is acceptable and tolerable for you. The world clearly continues to allow more and tolerate more of the things that God detests but God does not change. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV): Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

Let your perspective of what is right and what is true and what is acceptable come from God, not from the world.

11.20.2015 - His Messengers
In that place between awake and asleep (I really need a name for this). What I do know about it is that it's a place between the physical and the spiritual world. A place where I see and hear and experience and witness spiritual things, ideas, answers, visions without the hindrance of my mind imposing logic or social values or any other human guidelines. In this place, God is there. He is always there as He is everywhere. I suppose it is me that is able to "go" there without the shackles and limitations of a body. It's like the difference between praying aloud and having to take a breath because your body requires it vs. praying internally where you don’t have to stop to take a breath.

Countless times I have been in this spiritual state and in those moments, possibly seconds, I see things that I have never seen before. In this state I know that whatever I ask, God chooses to answer. It is as if I am in His presence and I have transcended myself.

Yesterday, during this state, I saw myself standing on stage in front of the congregation at my church. I knew that some would know who I was or at least recognize me as a member, but realized that most would probably be wondering who I was and why I was in front of them. Then I heard myself say: "You may be wondering who I am and why you should listen to me. I have never been to seminary, in fact, I never graduated college, but we have a mutual friend. He is smarter than all the geniuses of this world put together. He is stronger than all the armies in all the world and all their technology combined. He does not experience bravery or courage or fear or doubt and yet He is more loving than all the world's love combined. In fact, He is love. God is my friend and He speaks to me and He wants to speak to you through me. Today I am His messenger…"

I believe that this was a way that God chose to communicate to me. I was listening to Him speak to me in the dream through me. I believe that is precisely His message for all of us. He wants to use us so that He can speak through us and spread the gospel. He has called us to be his messengers. Mark 16:15 (NIV): “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

So I would like to encourage you today to pray before you go to bed that God would reveal Himself to you while you sleep, and to remind ourselves that we are called to be His messengers.

11.19.2015 - Let God be your distraction
The devil tries so hard to distract us from God with the things of this world; work, money, material things, climbing the corporate ladder, keeping up with the Jones, the next million dollar idea… you fill in the blank. Why not change this? Make God your distraction instead! In fact, make Him your DELIGHT and he will give you the desires of your heart! Psalm 37:4 (NIV): "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

So then if we take delight only in the things of this world and not in God, all we have are worldly, temporary things and a road to nowhere. 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV): "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Mark 8:36 (KJV): "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

The Holy Spirit spoke this into my spirit this morning as I was praying in the spirit. When I got to work, things seemed different, even the lighting seemed different. I later heard the maintenance guys working on the lights, but I knew it was a sign for me to change my perspective. It wouldn’t be the first time God used light to illustrate a point! One example: Matthew 5:16 (NIV): "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

God spoke to me and instructed me to stay in His spirit throughout the day even at work. Let Him be the priority and let work follow, not the other way around. Here is a quote I like that supports this way of thinking: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin."

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that our first mission is to serve Him. Let Him be our first thought and constant meditation. I am here at work to serve Him. This, today, is my mission field.

My prayer for you today is that you get distracted from the world, make God your number one priority and first mission, delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

11.18.2015 - Priorities
Years ago, I attended a men's leadership luncheon where I heard a well-respected Christian businessman talk on priorities. He said that our priorities should be God, Family, Country, Health, and Work. I had never heard this before and found this fascinating. I didn't have a list of priorities like this to follow and I wanted to know more.

He went on to say that we should keep these priorities in order and pointed out that, for example, Country came before Health as there are times when we must put our health and even our lives on the line for our country. This helped me to understand that the order of the priorities is important.

A short time later I was asked to teach a Sunday school class and believed that God wanted me to teach on priorities. I began to think and pray about what I had learned. I wanted an easy way for myself, and for the class, to remember these priorities in the right order.

The Holy Spirit, as only He can do, revealed something to me that I will never forget. He said "God Fearing Christians Have Wisdom" Whoa, what? I heard it again, "God Fearing Christians Have Wisdom." The first letter of each word in this phrase line up perfectly with God, Family, Country, Health, and Work. WOW!!! I was completely blown away. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. Still having a hard time believing what had just happened, I started repeating it to myself, God Fearing Christians Have Wisdom. I am still amazed by this. But, it gets better…

…As I was reading a few days later in Proverbs, I read Proverbs 9:10 which says: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Wow again! This was further confirmation to me of what I heard. What an amazing God we serve!!!

I started looking at this list of priorities with the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) in mind. If you haven't heard of this principle, it's pretty cool. Basically, an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto noted that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the people. He became somewhat obsessed with this ratio, seeing it in everything. For example, he observed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of his pea plants. The 80:20 ratio of cause-to-effect became known as the Pareto Principle and has been applied to all sorts of things.

I applied this principle to our priorities list and found it interesting that when I looked at the top 20%, in this case the top 2 priorities, I saw that the priorities were God and Family. I believe that if you get the top 20% right that the other 80% of the priorities will fall into place.

I would like to challenge you to remember that God Fearing Christians Have Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and commit to memory these priorities: God, Family, Country, Health, and Work.

My prayer for you is that you will not only remember these priorities but that you will apply them, in the right order, in your life.

When faced with tough decisions, pray for direction and make sure they line up with your priorities.

11.17.2015 - My Portion
Many times I feel that I am not meeting my potential, not fulfilling my calling. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I have been given a portion and that I should be satisfied with it. He showed me to pray: Father, thank you for the portion you have given me. Please help me to use my portion for your glory.

This was very comforting to me. I realized that I don't have to be a famous evangelist to tell people about Jesus. I don’t have to be a published author or even write books to write about the things of God. I don't have to be Mother Teresa to show kindness. I can simply be who God called me to be and why would I want anything else?

We don't have to try be like someone else to be satisfied with who we are. What we should do is use the portion that we were given for His glory and learn to be satisfied with ourselves.

Remember, God created each of us with a unique purpose. Psalm 139:13 tells us that He created our inmost being, that we were knit together in our mother's womb. We were hand-made by the Master!

Thank Him for the portion He has given you and use it for His glory!

11.16.2015 - Pride comes before the fall
Do not be deceived. Pride is a very bad thing in God's eyes and He judges those who are proud swiftly.

Of the 7 things that are listed as an abomination to the Lord, the very first is a proud look.

Proverbs 6:16-19: These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Adjectives used in the Bible to describe pride are: From the world, strife, conceit, wickedness, arrogance, insolence, curses and lies, violence, disgrace, foolishness, deceitfulness, destruction, and haughtiness and are translated as: excellency, haughtiness, arrogancy, highness, highminded, proud, proudly, swelling, majesty, pomp, raging, loftiness, and presumptuously. I think you get the idea.

The Bible says that the proud will be shattered, brought low, deposed, stripped of his glory, not remain triumphant, brought down, brought to ruin, humbled, fall by the sword, desecrated, and destroyed.

The Bible tells us that pride brings disgrace. Proverbs 11:2 says: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

A popular saying is "Pride comes before the fall" which is a loose translation of Proverbs 16:18 which actually says: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. I think this highlights the problem. This is where we are being deceived. We treat pride as if it will cause us to stumble, when it actually has the potential to destroy us. Let me repeat that again. The Bible says that Pride goes before DESTRUCTION. So then we see and react to pride as if it were a pebble and God sees it and reacts to it as if it were a boulder, an abomination no less.

If you think about Pride's consequence (destruction), alongside Satan's agenda to steal, kill, and destroy, it becomes clear where pride actually comes from.

1 John 2:16 tells us that pride is not from God: For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

I believe that pride is a far greater sin than most realize.

Here are just a few examples of how pride led to destruction where the consequences were swift and severe:

Lucifer, you may remember was an angel, a musician singing God's praises, but he became proud and was cast out of heaven.
Isa 14:11: All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.

The plagues as a result of Pharaoh's pride: (water to blood, gnats, flies, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of his firstborn son) Exodus 5:2: And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Joshua's undefeated army was defeated by a small group of men at Ai because of pride and disobedience. Jos 7:4: So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai,

The Titanic sunk in 1911 after an employee of the White Star line made the statement "Not even God himself could sink this ship."

Amelia Earhart disappeared tragically on July 2, 1937 after entrusting a celestial navigator who proudly guaranteed that he alone could find a small island for them to refuel.

The historical records of pride and consequences goes on and on.

As a personal example, I remember putting on a pair of inline skates for the first time and began backward skating down the driveway saying "don't worry, I am a great skater". I did not realize at the time that the brakes on inline skates are in the back and not the front. The consequence of my pride was a quick visit to a concrete ditch, and some cuts and bruises. Another painful reminder that pride comes with consequences.

So be very careful not to fall into pride or you may find yourself falling or worse. It is a dangerous and subtle weapon of the enemy. Pray instead for confidence and humility. Strive to be meek (strength without arrogance) as Jesus was and God will bless you as He has promised in His Word.

11.15.2015 - He will never forsake you
After praying one morning the Lord instructed me to open my Bible and just start reading. I read the following scripture and could feel the power behind it.

Deuteronomy 31:6: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

I read this and the word "never" struck me like a pickup truck. I said out loud "NEVER". "HE will never leave you nor forsake you." "He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you."

I had a flash forward of my life and realized that no matter what happens He will be there. He will ALWAYS be there. This is a very powerful truth and promise to us. HE, the creator of the heavens and the earth, will NEVER leave us. HE, the author and finisher of our faith, the father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will never forsake us. HE, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, will ALWAYS be there with us wherever we are. My favorite Psalm comes to mind:

Psalm 139
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand-- when I awake, I am still with you.<

Take comfort today in knowing that God has promised to ALWAYS be with you and NEVER forsake you!!!

11.14.2015 - Bible over Books
"Bible over books" - I kept hearing this phrase over and over in the early morning hours. In my spirit I knew it meant that I should not allow the reading of other books to take precedence over or to take the place of reading the Bible. I can actually feel a lacking in my spirit when I allow the Bible to fall to the bottom of my reading list. This usually happens gradually before I realize it.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that we should read other books. Mark Twain said "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." Reading is a great way to educate and entertain ourselves, however, it is important to remember that no book, other than the Bible, is God's Word.

There are some fantastic books out there written by inspired Christian authors and I highly recommend reading these types of books, but even these should not take the place of reading the Bible. Remember, these authors are quoting directly from a book you have access to! Do not allow even these types of books to take place of your reading time in God's Word. I believe that it is important that we spend time in His Word allowing Him to speak to us directly without someone else's input.

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

My prayer is that if you are already reading the Bible on a consistent basis, that God will give you strength to continue your journey. If you are allowing other books to consume your reading time, I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to spend more of this time reading God's Word.  If you are not reading the Bible at all, I would like to suggest that you begin. It is powerful and will change your life. If you find it easier to do just about anything other than read the Bible, ask yourself why. There is a reason. We have an enemy and he is aware of the power in this book. He sees it as a threat. He will try to distract you and attempt to keep you from getting closer to God. Resist him. Just open the book and read it.

If you are unsure about where to start, I think Romans is a great place to start. Also, there are 31 Proverbs. Try reading the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month. Psalm 139 is my favorite Psalm. Matthew 5, the book of James, it's all good!!! Try starting today and the Lord will guide you. Try starting with at least 1 verse a day and go from there. I pray that God will bless your time in His Word!

One more thing, if you have a smartphone, YouVersion is a fantastic Bible app which has lots of reading plans to choose from and will even read the Bible to you! I sometimes turn it on when I am getting ready for work, driving down the road, or getting ready for bed. It's a great way to get the Word. Also, www.blueletterbible.org is a great online Bible resource. Enjoy!

11.13.2015 - What to Pray

From time to time, the Holy Spirit impresses upon me things to pray. I created the list below as a reminder of what and who to pray for each day. I have updated this list over the years as the Lord has directed. I wanted to share this with you and encourage you to add it to your prayers. It is powerful. Pray it out loud and you will see what I mean.

 

When you hear of a family that needs prayer, add them to the family section. When you hear that someone needs healing, add them to the healing section. When you have a specific need or prayer, add it. Make this prayer your own. Put your prayers and those you want to pray for in it.

 

I pray that the Lord will bless you and honor your prayer life. Of course this is just a starting point. As the Holy Spirit leads, add to the list, keep it up-to-date, and pray it often.

 

Here is the prayer:

 

  • God, I praise you for who you are.
  • You are an Awesome God and worthy to be praised.
  • There is none like you and none before you.
  • I thank you that you are the truth, the way, and life
  • I thank you that you are the plan and you are my plan. I put my trust in you.
  • Please forgive us of our sins
  • Please deliver us not into temptation
  • Please make us strong against temptations
  • Please deliver us from evil
  • Please protect us against lust, pride, greed, envy, jealousy, idolatry, selfishness, and anything that would be displeasing to you
  • Thank you for the day
  • Thank for all that you give us
  • Thank you for the breath of life
  • Please keep Lorri, Lindsey, Jarrod, Carley, Bailey, Leslie, Annabelle, Mom and Dad, Brad, Sherrie, William, Jenny Lynn, Pastor Bill and his family, Cascade Hills, the city of Columbus, and the rest of my family healthy, happy, holy, and protected
  • Please give us joy
  • Please guide us, lead us, and direct us
  • Please give us strength and grace for the journey
  • Please give us knowledge and understanding
  • Please heal our land and expand our territory
  • Please help us to have a productive day
  • Please give us opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better
  • Please give us humility and confidence
  • Please keep falsehood and lies far from us
  • Please help me to be a better leader, teacher, father, husband, brother, son, employee, and person
  • Please prepare the people who would be good for us and bring them into our lives in your perfect timing
  • Please help us to be a good example of Christ to others
  • Please give wisdom to those in authority over me
  • Please help me to be a good representation of you
  • Please give me wisdom for those I am in authority over
  • Please help me to interact with my peers and those around me in a way that would be pleasing to you
  • Please help me to use the resources and gifts you have given me for your glory

 

  • I lift up the following to you and pray for joy, peace, prosperity, blessings, good health, and comfort for
    • My Family
      • Lorri, Lindsey, Jarrod, Carley, Bailey, Leslie, and Annabelle
      • Mom, Dad, Mimi
      • Brad, Sherrie, William, Jenny Lynn
      • Lt., Jeannie, Boyd, Scott
      • Julie, Sean, Rachel, Justin, Carter, Mason, Beka, John Carl
      • Uncle Jud
      • Uncle Wilbur
      • Uncle Royce
      • Craig, Wren, Tabetha, Bruce, Edie, Seth, Josh, Luke
      • Scottie, Jessica, Taylor, Jamie
      • Jeremy, Meagan, James
      • Chris, Julie, Teddy, Ruby
      • Phil, Guyette, Brandon
      • Kay
      • Kathy
      • Steve
    • Other Families:
      • Brescia family
      • Carlisle family
      • Cross family
      • Dean family
      • Edwards family
      • Gavelick family
      • Murrell family
    • Individuals (Healing)
      • Kathryn Bryant
      • Carson Hand
      • Jansen Hutcherson
      • Tanner Reese

 

  • Pastors in Columbus (please protect them, anoint them, give them peace, and wisdom)
  • Those in authority over me and for those I am in authority over
  • Christian authors: Max Lucado, Ted Dekker, Benny Hinn
  • Christian artists: Jeremy Camp, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Newsboys, NewSong,
  • Christian Radio: The Joy FM, The Truth
  • Lord, please give me something good to do today

 

  • Please give me the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the meekness of Moses, and the love of Jesus
  • Please equip me with your armor
11.12.2015 - Pray for opportunities to serve

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me years ago to begin praying daily for opportunities to serve. I started seeing the obvious hand of God in putting me in the right place at the right time to help others. It got to the point where I was no longer surprised but knew that God had placed me in a situation, in His perfect timing, to help someone else because He knew there was a need and that I wanted to help.

At first, there were a couple of times where I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to help and may have missed an opportunity. Other times I felt that I should help but didn't really know how. I needed wisdom in these situations.

The Holy Spirit then impressed upon me to add "…and wisdom to know how to serve your people better". This is what Solomon asked for when God said that He would give him anything. So I began praying daily: "I pray for opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better. "

The message today is to pray for opportunities to serve, and I can assure you they will come, but also to be expectant, in faith, that they will come, and to be prepared for when they do. This is the wisdom part. These opportunities can come at you very fast and you will need wisdom along with the opportunity.

For example, driving down the road one evening in a rain storm, the car right in front of me began to hydroplane, hitting a curb and spinning out of control, finally coming to a stop in the median. It was one of those situations that seemed to happen in slow motion. I was in perfect position to see it happen and to check on the driver. God put me there, of course. So there was an opportunity to serve, but I needed wisdom to know how to help. As I approached the car, I was faced with a lone female driver who was very shaken up and staring blankly. I believe she was in a state of shock and did not know what to do. I was at her door within seconds of the accident and was able to check on her and assure her that it was going to be ok. I then helped her get safely back on the road by directing her back off of the median. I got back in my car and was on my way. I knew full well that God had put me there at that exact moment and had given me wisdom to do what I did.

Prayer starter: Lord, I pray for opportunities to serve and wisdom to know how to serve your people better.

11.11.2015 - Ready for Battle?
In a dream the Lord asked me if my spiritual man was ready for battle. I said "I think so". The Lord responded with "How much training have you done this week?". Wow, that really put things in perspective. If I were training for a fight, I would be in trouble...

We should never lose perspective that spiritual battles are as real and many times more important than physical battles, however, we cannot fight spiritual battles with physical weapons. Intelligence, physical strength, power, fame, money, nor any other conventional weapon will defeat a spiritual enemy.

Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Physical things do not effect spiritual things. Therefore, we must not attempt to fight spiritual battles with physical tools. It would be as pointless as trying to kill the wind with a gun. It simply doesn't work that way.

Zec 4:6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty."

The good news is that God is on our side and has already defeated our spiritual enemy. God is greater. All we have to do is call on Him.

1Jo 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

All we have to do is surrender to God and He will fight our spiritual battles for us!!! This is counter-intuitive to how we fight physical battles but this is the point. You don't win a physical battle by surrendering but you must surrender to win a spiritual one. You cannot win a spiritual battle the same way that you win a physical one. It's not about aggression and strength but about surrender and faith.

Surrendering to God is an everyday event. We must train our spiritual selves to achieve positive results just as we must train our physical bodies to achieve positive results. If you sit around on the couch, eat junk food, and refuse to read what is your expected outcome? Perfect health and intelligence?

It is the same with our spiritual man. We must have faith in God, worship Him, honor Him, surrender to Him, pray for our families and others in need, study His Word, and act on our faith.

Spiritual couch potatoes don't make great warriors. Be ready to fight spiritual battles and God will use you!

11.10.2015 - Joy vs. Happiness
In Sunday School yesterday we talked about Paul in prison and how he had "joy". Later in the discussion there was a verse that said "Be joyful and rejoice". It struck me that we only hear the word "joy" in a religious setting.

Then I realized that I never remember seeing a scripture that said "be happy". I thought about the word "joy" in songs I had heard and realized that they were all Christmas songs, again, religious context.

Later I was scanning the headlines and saw the word "joy" again and the context was related to an emotion stated by the Pope.

Could it be that joy is a Godly word and happiness is what the world projects as what should be our objective?

Let's think about the two for a minute…

Happiness comes from the same Latin word which gives us our word for happenings (i.e.) surroundings or circumstances. Noah was instructed by God to build the ark in such a way that the only windows were at the top of the ark so that Noah could only look up (vertically, toward God), not horizontally toward his surroundings or circumstances (read: happenings).

So then Joy comes from God and is a vertical emotion and relationship with God. Happiness is a horizontal emotion and relationship with the world. Now it makes sense.

Paul was not happy in jail, he was joyful!!! He was rejoicing in the vertical emotion and relationship with God and was insulated from the horizontal surroundings. God cannot be imprisoned!!!

Seek joy, not happiness!

11.09.2015 - Share your well
The Holy Spirit showed me that He is the living water and He fills our well. When we receive the Word, revelation, inspiration, and experience, the living water in our well rises. He showed me that we need to share the water that is in our well. If we continue to fill our well but do not share the water, we simply have a well full of water that can become stagnant and no one benefits from it.

We must share the water that has been given to us and continue to refill the well! I believe this is why the Lord has directed me to share the revelation He has given me in this blog. We are not called to horde what God has given us but to share it.

Here is a tough question. How many times have you heard the plan of salvation? Think about that for a second. I would estimate I have heard it well over a thousand times in my lifetime. Now here is the hard part. How many times have you shared it with someone?

Is your well full of stagnant water? If so, maybe it's time to empty your well. I challenge you to try. I believe, however, that the more you share your water, the more the Lord will fill your well. It's okay, the Lord will make sure that you do not run out!

Share what's in your well today!

11.08.2015 - I am doing the best that I can
As I was praying this morning on the way to work I said "I am doing the best that I can" to which I heard the Lord say "Are you sure? Because if you are then I have overestimated you".

Wow! As only He could do, He motivated and encouraged me by showing me that I have not met the potential that He sees in me.

Also, He reminded me that He knows me better than I know myself.

It caused me to ask the question, Am I really doing the best that I can or am I just allowing myself to believe that I am for my own contentment.

God knows your full potential and is the only one who can help you reach it.

Seek His wisdom and ask Him to help you reach your full potential today!

11.07.2015 - He is a specialist
Pray based on the scripture you just read. I read Psalm 139 last night and this morning I was able to draw on this for my morning prayer. Very cool. "Thank you Lord that you hem me in behind and before. Thank you that I was formed in the secret place. Thank you that no matter where I go you are there."

I am a believer in using subject matter experts, specialists who are skilled in a particular field of study. For example, I would not go to a physical therapist with an ear ache. If I need shoulder surgery, I want the guy who specializes in shoulder surgeries who has done it a thousand times.

God showed me this morning that He is a "specialist" in all areas. The expression "jack of all trades and master of none" only applies to humans. God is "Master of All".

Trust the Lord in all areas of your life, no matter what it is.. He is a specialist!

11.06.2015 - Release your faith
God spoke to me in the middle of the night and told me that I needed to "Release my faith". I began praying in the following manner "I release my faith" to have a closer walk with God. "I release my faith" to have an abundant life. "I release my faith…".

I felt an immediate peace and total confidence that this was very powerful and that I had tapped into something Awesome. It may be time to Release your faith.

James 2:26 tells us: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”.

So, having faith is great, but you must apply action to it!

This sounds like a formula to me. If this were a mathematical formula it might look something like this: Faith – Works = 0. Faith + Works = 1, where our goal is something positive.

It also reminds me of how chemical reactions work: Two chemicals by themselves (faith and works) are inert (lacking the ability or strength to move), but when combined the chemical reaction changes the substance into a new one that has a different chemical identity (or in other words, a new creation).

2Co 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”

If you have areas in your life which need a touch from God, have FAITH in Him, SPEAK to it, and ACT on it!

Release your faith today and discover the difference putting your faith in action makes!!!

11.05.2015 - Sharing my journal
For the past 6 years or so, I have kept a personal journal, primarily for recording dreams, visions, and revelations from the Holy Spirit. I realized this morning that I occasionally blog about things such as buying a motorcycle or a random tech tip here but keep secret a journal of revelations that might actually be a blessing to others. So I have decided to begin sharing these as the Lord leads.

For those that may be here for the first time and are somehow offended by this, I make no apologies. I love the Lord and He speaks to me and I will be sharing it here. If this is not politically correct, good. My goal is not to please men but to please the Lord.

Matthew 10:32-33 says: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Also, His name is Jesus. If you don't know Him or don't follow Him then you probably don't know what you are missing and I strongly encourage you to ask God to show you the truth. It is literally a matter of life and death. Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

My prayer is that this blog will be an encouragement and blessing to all that read it.

03.25.2015 - Bought a Hog!
After 30+ years of admiring Harley's and the last decade telling myself every Spring "this is the year", I finally pulled the trigger. The good part about waiting was that after all this time I had figured out exactly what I wanted and when I saw her it was love at first sight. The good Lord definitely had His hand in this in so many ways. My first ride was from Roswell to Columbus with a side trip through Pine Mountain. It was a beautiful day and she drove like a dream. There is nothing like cruising on a powerful machine with your feet propped up, sun in your face, sunburned arms, a numb crotch, bugs in your teeth, diesel fumes in your nostrils, and 70 miles an hour worth of air rushing through you. It's a blast! Check out the pictures in March 2015. These were taken after my first ride back from Roswell. I was wearing a borrowed helmet and glasses, brown boots and a short-sleeved shirt (what a rookie) ...but a ride I will never forget. It was a great day!
11.12.2014 - Here's a blast from the past
I was doing some looking around on my server and ran across the old Turning Point Band site. Check it out here.
01.05.2013 - AVG 2013 Anti-Virus software
One of the most common questions I receive, probably second only to "What kind of computer should I buy?" is "What do you use for Anti-Virus protection?". My answer is always "AVG". I have used it for years, love it, it works very well, and its free.

However, the free version is a little hard to find (this is done on purpose I suspect) so I keep the latest version (I have installed) on my website to make the scavenger hunt a little less painful. Here is the link to the new AVG 2013 Free edition.

One word of caution, the old adage "Nothing in life is free" is usually true. This is free software, however, be careful during the installation to read everything you are agreeing to install. There are several pre-checked checkboxes indicating toolbars and add-ons will be installed in addition to AVG. Do yourself a favor and uncheck them all. Toolbars are evil.

Love you, mean it.

Enjoy!

P.S. My HP EliteBook 8760 with a solid state hard drive is smokin!

11.08.2012 - Welcome Annabelle Leigh!
Congratulations to Jarrod and Leslie on the birth of Annabelle Leigh!

She was born on November 8th, 2012 at 4:15PM, weighing in at 8.5 pounds and was 20.5 inches long. Mother and baby are happy and healthy and we are all very excited.

10.13.2012 - Wounded Warrior 5K
Another gorgeous October morning run in downtown Columbus, this time in support of our wounded warriors. After sign-in, tossing the t-shirt in the car, and some quick stretching, we heard some heart-felt words from a Ft. Benning Lt. Colonel and Sgt. Major regarding the Wounded Warrior cause. The training was over, the stop-watch was set, headphones on, and the fire of the gun. Man, I love to run! This time I decided to start at the head of the pack (just to get a feel for what it's like in front). I actually stayed with the leaders (sort of) for a short distance but these 5-minute milers are incredibly fast. I had my own goals anyway, and today's goal was simple: Finish the race without stopping and come in under 25 minutes. This would be a 1.5 minute improvement over my last 5K and I had decided I would be very satisfied with this. At one point in the race, I felt off my pace and wasn't sure I was going to make it. Running is much more of a mental game than I realized. Long-story-short, not only did I finish under 25, I finished under 24, 23:58 to be exact, and as a very sweet and unexpected surprise, I finished 1st in my age group!!! 1st place. Wow, this feels really good. Next race I want to see if I can run it in under 23 minutes. I will keep you posted.
09.15.2012 - Tunnels To Towers 5K
As some of you may be aware, I have really taken to the sport of running. Its great exercise, stress relief, provides an opportunity for prayer, solitude, meditation, peace of mind, and many other benefits.

I know that to be successful in any sport, there must be incentive, motivation, challenges, and goals. For me, as a relative beginner, finishing a 5K without a ride in an ambulance was all the above. So, initially my reasons were somewhat selfish, I wanted to push myself physically, but what I discovered after getting involved is that the popularity of 5K races is at an all-time-high for very good reasons.

Runners come together to test their abilities and the entry fee benefits a worthy cause. This was certainly the case of the 5K I ran yesterday in downtown Columbus called Tunnels to Towers 5K.

In short, these races are a blast and I plan to do many more in the coming months. To my surprise, I came in 55th out of 180 (top 30% overall and took 4th place in my age group with my best time ever). See results here if interested. Now I’m pumped and want to improve my time and move up the list.

So if you are interested in improving your health and benefiting a worthy cause my challenge to you is to get off the couch and run a 5K. Just once and I know you will be hooked.

Happy Running!

08.30.2012 - All IHop resturants are not the same
For those of you who frequent IHop, especially in Columbus, keep reading. My dad asked that I share the following here to get the word out.

"My wife, Jean & I have been enjoying having a $4.99 breakfast special several times recently at the Airport Thruway location of IHop. The service has been great, & the attitude of the employees very friendly. The $4.99 special is good Mon thur Fri, & is better deal than their Senior Citizen specials. 2 eggs, hash browns or a HUGE bowl of grits 2 slices of bacon or 2 sausages, or for additional $.50 ham Also included is an order of 2 pancakes. They even offer a 10% senior citizen discount on this special selection.

Today, we took our daughter-in-laws mother to the IHop located on Gateway. I ordered the special, Surprise, surprise. Ham was not an option(at any price). a "tiny" bowl of grits, they forgot the pancakes, until I reminded them, & no senior citizen discount allowed on this selection. The cashier was almost rude when discussing this fact, & proudly announced this IHop was owned by different people, than our now "preferred" Airport Thruway Location."

Frequent IHop customer,

Bill Edwards

08.20.2012 - Opportunities to Serve
Several years ago, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me to begin praying each morning for “opportunities to serve.” Later He had me add “…and wisdom to know how to serve Your people better”. So I have been praying this daily and I am here to tell you, if you are willing, that God will provide you with both the opportunity to serve and the wisdom to know how to serve. I cannot tell you how many times He has put me in the right place at the right time for His service. A recent example happened to me this past weekend that I would like to share with you.

Late Sunday afternoon, I felt like running, so I put on my running gear, shorts, shoes, hat, running watch, and music. I stretched, set my watch, and took off down the road. I have a 4 mile run/walk which I really enjoy and I am working toward the full 4 mile run at a quicker pace. I am doing interval training so I have been timing the first mile trying to run it faster on each run.

I began my run and realized that I was running at an unusually fast pace. This is not that uncommon and usually means I need to slow down to make the distance. However, this was different. I realized that I had the lungs and the legs and I felt a surge of unexpected energy and decided to take full advantage of it. I found myself running what felt like a sprint and as I looked up I could see the 1 mile mark. I looked at my watch and could not believe my time so I decided to go for it. I knew this was definitely going to be my personal best by a significant margin. As I drew closer to the 1 mile mark, where I usually stop to catch my breath, I looked to my right and noticed an elderly man petting a golden retriever in the front yard of a house I have always admired. I thought to myself “I always wondered to who lived there”. I looked forward and kept running.

I glanced back once more and noticed a silver Tahoe, female driver, 50ish, driving the Tahoe through the same yard where I noticed the man. She stopped at the top of the hill and she was looking right at me with a look of terror on her face. She began yelling something but I could not hear what she was saying over my music. I turned the music off and was able to understand her gesture toward the man and dog and was able to read her lips mouth the word “lost”. I yelled “Do you need help?” Emphatically she yelled back “yes”. I turned and ran toward the man and asked him if he had lost his dog. He seemed very confused and began talking incoherently about his ruler. The woman, now in tears, was yelling that he had Alzheimer’s and he was the one that was lost.

Ok, this was a game changer. This was no longer a pet gone astray. I knew I had to help. I began walking alongside the man trying to talk to him and to get a sense of where he was going while trying to protect him. The woman pulled around and explained that his name was Buddy, that she was a neighbor and that she was trying to get him to safety. He would walk in one direction and would say something that made no sense. I said “sir you are not safe here, she is your friend, you need to go with her, she wants to take you home”. It was like he was in another world. He would walk in one direction as if he knew where he was going. I would try to convince him that I was there to help him, he would respond as if in a completely different conversation, and then he would take off into another direction. I knew he was in danger and had to get him into the car. I thought about grabbing him and putting him in the car but knew that was not the right thing to do. I had to make him understand that I was his friend and that I was there to help him. I got him to the car 2 or 3 times but he did not want to get in. After about 10 minutes of walking beside him and talking to him there was a point where I really felt like the Holy Spirit intervened and something seemed to click. He finally got into the car and the woman, by this point, was crying hysterically, makeup running down her face and on the cell phone with Buddy’s son. She thanked me repeatedly and asked me my name. I watched her drive away with Buddy and he was finally safe.

It was very gratifying to have been able to help but what this incident impressed upon me the most was that I was at the right place at the right time and was equipped to help. I realized that God gave me the energy to run faster because He had somewhere He needed me to be. Also, the woman couldn’t keep up with the man, so God sent a runner! Also, God knew that I would help and that I would listen to Him because I ask Him every day for opportunities like this. God is alive and well and it should be our honor to serve Him. I would like to encourage you to be a willing vessel and He will provide the need.

Wow, as a perfect ending to this story, literally, as I was typing this, a friend at work walked up and asked if I knew a place close by where he could pump some air into his tires. He said the place I recommended was out of order and I told him that I had a bicycle pump in my trunk. I saw this as another opportunity and said let’s go pump them up. We got his tires pumped up (bad day for a long sleeve shirt in August) and he said “you are a life saver” to which I was able to share the concept of praying for opportunities to serve.

I love how God is constantly working.

I hope that you will begin to pray for opportunities to serve and will receive similar blessings of service.

07.24.2012 - Garage Workout
I seem to have a newfound energy and motivation for physical exercise. I was already working out 5 days a week and running occasionally, a little tennis here, a little volleyball there but it just wasn’t satisfying enough. I actually think I may be addicted to physical exercise. I just cannot seem to get enough. In addition to my lunchtime workout, I recently decided to start running at night and working out in my garage.

For those that know me best you know that I don’t love the heat, however, I also don’t believe in complaining and I also refuse to let anything beat me. A quote of my own design: “Complaining about the things you cannot change is pointless. Complaining about the things you can change is laziness. My only complaint is that people complain”. Question: Should you put quotes around your own quote...? I digress...

I also believe that in order to improve in anything you must make your weakness strength. Parenthetically, I think about how geese take turns leading when flying south for the winter. The weakest, read: most rested moves to the front as the strongest. Take working out legs for example. Legs used to be my least favorite body part to train. I moved my leg work out to Monday’s and really started focusing on them. Before I knew it they became a strength. The funny thing is that once you make a weakness a strength, there is a new weakness that needs focus. This is my personal philosophy for improvement in a nutshell.

So I decided to turn my distaste for the sweltering July temperatures into strength. I learned to run in the heat and while I was pouring sweat, what the heck, I figured I might as well get a work out in. With that said, I am finding unexpected benefits to what I term my “garage workout”. For one, there are additional objects in a garage that don't exist in a traditional gym which can provide physical activity and productivity at the same time. For example, last night I ran, waxed my car (wax on, wax off Danielson), and worked out. Tonight, I ran, pumped up my car tires (with a bicycle pump – great triceps work out), then dumbbells.

I guess the moral of the story is: rather than complain, act, make your weakness your strength, and working out in the garage isn’t so bad...

06.04.2012 - Bob Barr Band website live!
Just wanted everyone to know that phase 1 of the new Bob Barr Band website, www.bobbarrband.com is complete. Let me know what you think.
09.21.2011 - Amazon Prime
For those of you that use Amazon.com as your go-to-online-source for purchases as I do, I want to introduce you to “Amazon Prime”. It can easily pay for itself, especially around the holidays. Basically for $80 a year you get free 2 day shipping on millions of eligible Amazon.com items. To save money, I would typically take the default ground shipping which could take a week or so and still cost you something. There is no minimum purchase. You even get free streaming videos and improved package tracking among other perks. I started out with a free trial but liked it so much I decided to sign-up so I thought I would share this with you. Enjoy!
09.15.2011 - My first phone app in the store!
I recently bought a Windows 7 Phone, primarily due to my excitement over the Microsoft application and gaming platform with which I was already familiar. I began filling journals with application and game designs. When I finally got my head out of the clouds I built a simple yet practical phone application I call “Lease Odometer” as my first offering. I submitted it on 9-11 and it was certified and published on 9-15. I plan for this to be the first of many applications and games developed by tweTools. If you have any ideas for me I am all ears. Click the title of this blog entry to see more about it on the web.
12.21.2010 - Please don't misuse the word Agnostic
My pet peeve: People who misuse the word "agnostic" in technical discussions. You know the people I am talking about. They are obviously repeating something they heard from another misinformed person because it makes them sound more in-the-know.

Example: "The model is where the data comes from. It can be a gateway to web services, a data layer to the database, a file system manager, and so forth. It is completely ignorant of the view." Yes! The author got it right! However, many will still try to mistakenly use the word "agnostic" in place of "ignorant". Ironically, this is out of pure ignorance.

For the record, inhuman objects cannot be agnostic, a term meaning that someone (read: a person) denies that God's existence is provable. Programs, databases, networks, objects, etc; can, however, be ignorant and indifferent to the existence of other inanimate objects. Ironically, agnostics, by definition are ignorant to the truth that God exists (a discussion for another day).

Okay, so there are words that are misused all the time, for example, there are still people (who obviously did not have to endure my English professor's sermons on the subject) who think that "irregardless" is a word in the English language. This is obvious to me, because they try to work it into every conversation. It bothers me that we have become so lazy as a society that we just repeat what we hear without any validation or really knowing the meaning. Okay, I feel better. Rant-of-the-day quota met.

12.07.2010 - Teddy Marie Hammond
Congratulations to Julie and Chris Hammond on the birth of their baby girl!!! As of 9:44PM last night we have a new addition to our family. My first cousin, Julie Gilmer Hammond, gave birth to a healthy baby girl (Teddy Marie Hammond). 8 pounds, 7 ounces, and 22 inches long. She was named after my grandfather Theodore "Teddy" Brescia. Marie is also a family name on my mothers side.
11.29.2010 - Dropbox
Dropbox is software that syncs your files online and across your computers. Put your files into your Dropbox folder on one computer, and they'll automatically appear on any of your other computers that also have Dropbox installed (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!). You can even download Dropbox apps for your smartphone or mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry). Everything in your Dropbox is available from the Dropbox website, too.
04.02.2010 - Quack Attack
It was my honor to coach the "Quack Attack" Aflac Relay for Life tournament softball team this weekend. I started out as the shortstop and coach but after a superman slide into 3rd base during an Aflac Men's softball game the week before the tournament I became just "coach". I suffered a badly dislocated and fractured finger. See pictures. No regrets though, I coached hard, and the team played hard. We won the first 3 games by mercy rule. We played 2 games Friday night and then again Saturday morning. By 4:00PM Saturday we found ourselves undefeated and playing for all the marbles, the championship game. It was a double-elimination tournament and we were the only undefeated team. One of the tournament rules was that players could be "purchased" from teams that had been put out. Our opponent took full advantage of this rule and we found ourselves playing an all-star team. We fought hard but were denied our championship by losing back-to-back games to the same team and settled for second place. Not bad for our first year though and no "single" team was able to beat us. Rest assured, Quack Attack will be back!
01.28.2010 - AutoHotKey
One of the coolest tools I have run across in years. AutoHotKey is an application that allows you to create scripts and macros to do a wide variety of Windows type functions such as creating hotkeys for common tasks, macros, etc. It runs in your systray and can make your Windows experience much more gratifying. Very addictive. Click here to learn more.
08.25.2009 - Today is the perfect day for something.
While riding down the road the other day with the family, my youngest daughter, Bailey, said "Today is the perfect day for something". There was silence afterwards as we all absorbed how profound that statement really was. I believe that this statement has great depth and truth and promise. "Out of the mouth of babes". So challenge yourself each day to find something perfect and pursue it. Allow yourself to believe that "today is the perfect day for something".
06.29.2009 - Reminder: Add your cell phone to do not call list
REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public next month. REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls. .... YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS Even if the message is saved on your phone, you will be charged for the minutes to listen to it. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number. OR go here - https://www.donotcall.gov/
04.15.2009 - Facebook
I have a confession to make...I signed up for Facebook last night. Okay I know, for those of you have raved about Facebook go ahead and get it out of the way and say "I told you so". However, I am still not really into the whole social networking thing so I probably will not be one of those who checks it frequently. Weblazer is currently writing an application which will interact with Facebook so I figured I needed to become more Web 2.0 savvy.

For those that may not be familiar with "Web 2.0" it refers collectively to the social networking sites such as MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, etc. So anyway, I now have a Facebook account. I added a link to it at the bottom of this site. I guess I always saw these sites as somewhat of a distraction on a personal level, and rightly so, I spent hours on it last night getting setup and just dorking around. Many of the things that Facebook provides I was already doing and I guess I saw this as a duplication of effort (Blogging, quotes, links, email, photos, etc.). I will admit, however, that it's networking of people is unparalleled.

So, long story short (too late), you can visit or friend me on Facebook now but just don't expect too much. I guess I am old school in this respect and still prefer emails.

Cheers.

03.14.2009 - Photo Search
I cannot tell you how many times we, myself included, have wondered when an event took place and then spent considerable time clicking through months and years of photos manually trying to find a particular event or photo. Wow, that really sounds like a job for a program doesn't it? This is one that I have been thinking about for a while and finally made time to build. Now from the photos screen you will find a Search button adjacent to the Month drop down. Clicking this button will take you to a new Photo Search screen. From the search screen you can now search for any combination of Months, Years, and Events. You can even specify that you only want to see the list of events or show a thumbnail of the search result. Let me know what you think. I am sure it could still be improved upon. Cheers!
03.10.2009 - Search Portal
As a web user I found myself frequently searching the same sites over and over again. As a web developer, I saw this as a redundant task and could not resist the urge to automate it. Why? probably just to see if it could be done, but I now see the value in it.

My answer to this is a search portal within my site. If you go to Search at the top of the screen you will be presented with a screen filled text boxes representing site searches, effectively combining all the search capabilities of the sites listed into one convenient screen.

So if you want to search for a local business, type the business name into the Yellow Pages box and press Enter. If you want to search for an image, type in the name of the image into the Google Images textbox and press Enter. You get the idea. Your search will be executed and your results will be presented inside troyedwards.com without another window opening. To me this is very cool and much more convenient.

Furthermore, I have built this in such a way where I can add new searches from within the website itself making it very easy to add new searches (another convenience. Aren't computers great?). As I find new things that I want to search for I will add a search to this screen so check back frequently. Also, if you have ideas on sites you like to search, please let me know. You know where to find me. If not, do a search...Enjoy!

03.06.2009 - Bill and Jean added to site
For those of you that may not be aware, my Dad (Bill Edwards) is even more camera-happy than I am and supplies me with many of the great pictures you see on troyedwards.com. He and my mother (Jean Edwards) now have their own site (billandjeanedwards.com) to show off some of the pictures that they take. I added a link on this site under Family called "Bill and Jean" which points to billandjeanedwards.com. Enjoy!
02.27.2009 - Woot
Woot is a cool site which you should add to your list of sites to check daily. They only sell one item per day and it is always cheap and usually something everyone wants. Here is an excerpt from their page:

What is Woot and who's behind it?

Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability by 2043 – by then we should be retired; someone smarter might take over and jack up the prices. Until then, we're still the lovable scamps we've always been. But don't take our word for it: see what the online community has to say at this Wikipedia article.

I see only one item, do you sell anything else?

No. We sell one item per day until it is sold out or until 11:59pm central time when it is replaced (see next entry for details). However, each item we sell is in stock and typically ships within 2-3 business days.

02.25.2009 - ZoomIt
Onc of the coolest little tools I have seen in a long time. This is a must have for presentations but I have also found it very useful to have loaded to point out things on my screen.

ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image.

ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can use pen input for ZoomIt drawing on tablet PCs.

02.18.2009 - OpenOffice 2009
OpenOffice, as the name might imply, is a tool much like Microsoft Office. In fact, you can create spreadsheets, documents, databases, and presentations much like Excel, Word, Access, and PowerPoint. Anything you create in OpenOffice can be saved in a Microsoft Office format, but here is the best part...It's absolutely free. I just downloaded it yesterday and started playing with it but it looks pretty awesome. If you are looking for a Microsoft Office compatible tool without paying the Microsoft price, here you go. Available for download on the web or from the downloads section here. For more information go to http://www.openoffice.org/. Enjoy.
02.17.2009 - PicBlazer available
PicBlazer is a tool that I built to automate the organizing, archiving, resizing, renaming, and uploading of photos to a website. On the web server side, I have .php code that takes the photos and displays them in an organized fashion. The result of this can be seen on this site by clicking Photos. If you have a prior version of PicBlazer, you will need to uninstall it via Control panel. To install the latest version go to www.picblazer.com and click install. From this point forward, the software will auto-update itself as before.
02.13.2009 - Notepad++
Notepad++ is a free source code editor. It is lightweight, mature, uses tabs, supports several languages, and is free. If you are a developer this is a must have for your arsenal, and if you are anyone else, it beats the socks off Notepad. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose.
02.12.2009 - Google Chrome
In case you haven't heard, Google created a free web browser (Chrome) and in my humble opinion, it rocks. I have been using Google Chrome for some months now but enjoy using it so much that I thought I would blog about it again. It's small, light-weight, easy to install (and uninstall), feature-rich, and free. It incorporates tabs, recent bookmarks, thumbnails of recently visited sites in order of most visited, and on and on. Definitely worth a try. Click the title of this blog entry to jump to the downloads page.
02.07.2009 - Site Back Online
After many hours of reconstruction, troyedwards.com is back online. About a week ago it was determined that my RAID 5 server with 6 hard drives had 2 unrecoverable drives. RAID 5 has built in failover to handle the loss of one hard drive but cannot recover from 2 bad drives. Needless to say this was not expected and difficult to recover from. At any rate, I am still working to put many sites back together.