Sunday, August 30, 2009

Second Chances

This week I spent some time thinking about second chances. I think all of us would like to have a few “do-overs” and go back and correct a mistake or an error in judgment. Because I am a golfer, it reminds me of the golf term, “mulligans”. In the game of golf, a mulligan will give you an immediate opportunity to re-hit an errant shot in the hope of a better outcome. If you readjust and do things correctly, then the results are usually a better shot. However, if you repeat the same swing, you will often get a similar bad result.

As I reflect on what Christ has done for me in my life, I am thankful for the second chances he has given me. When we read the Bible we see the second chances He gave to some of the greatest leaders and teachers in the Bible. They were people that made a mess of their lives just like we all do at times. Some of them made some major mistakes, while others just simply disobeyed God. King David, Moses and the prophet Jonah were chosen by God to do some great things, but without the second chances that God extended to each of them they would not have become the great people we read about in the Bible.

Aren’t we thankful that God loves us and is patient? He could have wiped any one of these people of the face of the earth and found a replacement. But He didn’t, and after each one of them began to show remorse and repentance, God extended love and forgiveness. In time each one was restored to the plan that God had for their lives and they continued in God’s work. It’s difficult for us to imagine that God will forgive us for some of the things that we have done in our lives. But He forgave these great Bible leaders and He will forgive you and me when we come humbly to Him and seek forgiveness.

Jesus Christ gave each one of us a second chance when He died on the cross. That second chance will last until we die, and then there will be no more second chances. God is good and He is patient, but our time on earth will eventually run out. My prayer is that if you are at a point in your life that you think that you have made too many mistakes, or done something to bad for God to care, that you will remember these people from the Bible. God’s grace is big enough for all of us and all of our failures, and He wants to give you a second chance to live eternally with Him. Don’t wait to take advantage of the second chance that Christ died for, this is a limited time offer and we don’t know how much time each one of us has. Hebrews 9:27-28 reads, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

In Christ,


Romans 3:23-24

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random thoughts from a great weekend

Well this week has been a blessing in so many ways. First, our congregation confirmed the Elders recommendation for a new lead minister on Sunday and we are excited about the direction that we will be taking as a body of believers. Then on Saturday we had a block party for the local food pantry which is supported by 6 local churches. It was truly an amazing event. As I reflected on both of these events I made a couple of observations that I wanted to share with you.

At the block party there were over 100 servants (volunteers) assisting and helping the various families in need. These volunteers ranged from Junior High in age to senior adults. They represented six different churches, and they all shared a common goal of reaching out, in the name of Jesus, to help those in need. It was truly a blessing to be a part of this. There were stations for face and fingernail painting, free haircuts for the kids, and free school clothes for those in need. They had various games and free lunch for everyone. It was a great way to be the hand of God in the local community to the people who needed to feel it.

The great thing about the event is that people were able to see Christ projected through the servants that were helping. Isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing everyday? Projecting Christ in our lives and showing how our life has been transformed by Him. As I thought about my own life, I know it is real easy to project Christ in my life when things are going well, but when the difficult times come along, it becomes harder. It will only be with the help of the Holy Spirit that I am able to do this, and it is a learning experience everyday for me. We are conditioned by the world to react and act out when things aren’t going our way, but because of Jesus we are transformed and that should show in our actions and words everyday.

As Christians we need to be projecting Christ in our life every day. When things are going lousy at work and the boss is on your case…project Christ. When the kids at school are being mean…project Christ. When you are having a disagreement with your spouse or your kids…project Christ. It is not easy, but we are called to do it. We are not to conform to the ways of the world but we are to be transformed by God. (Romans 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18) So be aware this week of what you are projecting, because we live in a world that needs to feel, see and hear Christ-like words and actions.

The second thing I thought about concerned the confirmation of our new lead minister. There is always a certain level of excitement and apprehension when there is change involved in our lives. We humans don’t like change on any level because it moves us out of our comfort zones. Well, God has a way of challenging us and moving us into areas that we are not comfortable with. It is through change that He is challenging us to grow in Him. Remaining the same and doing the same things allows us to maintain, but maintaining is not what God desires for our lives. So as each of us encounters change in our lives, let us look for the ways that God is challenging each of us to grow. We serve a BIG God so let’s prayerfully anticipate the vision and directions that God will lead each of us as we encounter change in our daily lives.

In Christ,


John 3:16

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A great day for Dad a greater day for Audrey!

On July 26th 2009, I had the honor of baptizing my 8 yr old daughter Audrey. This was a decision that had been in the making for several months as Audrey had started asking us questions, as well as her Sunday School teachers and youth leaders. Over those several months it was amazing to see how Audrey's faith firmed up and her decision to act on that faith became very strong.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Katie and I will not take credit for this because that all goes to God. But there are several people in Audrey's life that had a part in her decision. Don't discount the impact that you have on the young people around you, because the littlest things can make the biggest difference.

On Sunday night the 26th, with family and friends watching our little Miss Audrey became our sister in Christ. As a Dad there are certain milestones that happen in your childrens lives that you will cherish forever. This was one of them for me. I told Audrey this is the beginning of a new life and a closer walk with Jesus. As parents and friends we need to support her, as well as all the other new Christians in our lives. Pray for them and mentor them. Thank you for letting me share this with you today and please keep Audrey in your prayers as she begins her walk with Christ.

In Christ,


Religion or Relationship?

Regardless of our age, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ presents some hurdles for us that often trip us up. Recently, I was engaging in a conversation about evangelism, with a young man from our youth group, whom I will call Jeff. He proceeded to tell me a story about a conversation he had with a friend about his faith. His friends response was that he didn’t have a religion yet, and was still looking for what religion he was going to be apart of. For young people like Jeff, I believe the hurdles present in sharing their faith are even more daunting than they are to us as adults and his friend’s response is becoming an all too common answer.

The answer Jeff’s friend gave him is a microcosm of what our country is facing. Recent statistics from 2008 indicate that 92% of Americans consider themselves religious and believe in God, while 76% call themselves Christian. The number of Christians has declined over 10% since 1990 while the number of people who claim no religion at all has climbed to 15%.

There are a couple of things that stand out to me. One is if 92% believe in God and 76% are calling themselves Christians, then why is our country in the shape it is in? Two, what God are we serving? My guess is that some of them aren’t serving the God that created all of this!

It leads me back to Jeff’s conversation with his friend. Jeff’s friend was searching for the same thing that we were seeking before we became believers, but he is getting derailed by a worldly point of view. As a Christian and a follower of Jesus, I don’t have a religion. I have a faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and there is a big difference. Jesus didn’t come to earth, suffer the things he suffered, and die on a cross so that you and I could have a religion! He came so that we could be in relationship with Him. He came to bridge the gap created by our sin, so that we could be in relationship with God! I believe God looks down at America and says “these people just don’t get it”. We are really not that much different than the Israelites when they made their golden calf. We take the parts of the Bible we like, the ones we can live with, and then we make our own little mini religion and mini god out of it. We go to church when it’s convenient and live pretty good moral lives, so we call ourselves “Religious” and “Christian”. That is not what Jesus died for.

There are people that are very religious about their sports teams and never miss a game or a score. There are people who religiously arrange their schedules around their favorite TV programs. The list of things we are religious about can go on and on. If we reduce our faith down to a religious exercise of going to church and living life a certain way then the label of Christian doesn’t mean much. We are to be servants, so everyday of our life, including Sunday, shouldn’t be about what God can give us. It should be about serving and giving back to God. It should be about a relationship with Jesus Christ. We were made to serve and Jesus served us by dying on a cross.

There are millions of people in this world that are searching for God. Unfortunately, Satan does his little game of trickery and takes the good things of the Bible and twists them around. He tells us, just like he told Eve, “Did God really say” and “you will not surely die”. He is telling us the same lies! Satan plants the seeds of doubt and discontent in our heads. We tell ourselves that surely God didn’t mean it the way it is written. I mean he loves me, and if he loves me then he would want me to be happy right? Justification…it is what we do so well and it is Satans master ruse. He is deceiving the world. The world has found religion and lost it’s faith in the process.

Jesus said in John 15:4-6, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

There is a world full of people seeking to find something that makes sense to them. They are people that you and I come into contact with on a daily basis in our jobs, our families and our social and leisure activities. We need to introduce them to Jesus and help them to have a relationship with the only person that can make sense of a chaotic world. We need to remain in Him and produce fruit in our lives.

In Christ,


John 14:6

Monday, August 3, 2009

Where's your Joy?

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Philippians while he was a prisoner in Rome. It’s a remarkable statement when you think of what Paul was going through personally. Paul is literally living in chains, but his attitude is that of thanksgiving and encouragement…joy and humility. His joy is in Christ, and he knows that if he goes on living and preaching the gospel he will continue to win people to Christ. If he happens to die in prison, then he will gain a reward in Heaven that he cannot put into words. In Paul’s eyes, it is the greatest position to be in.

I wonder in our own life how often we see it this way. I think if we were to write that passage our self, it would read something like this . “For me, to live is to gain and to die is loss”. Our lives are geared around the present. We live our lives to gain the immediate pleasure we get from the temporary things of the world. I wonder how many of us would be worrying about sharing the gospel with a prison guard or a fellow prisoner if we were in prison. I think most of us would be focusing on our desperate situation. We don’t do a very good job witnessing to our friends and family when things in our life are good, how could we do it when things get tough? Paul didn’t care what his circumstances were because he was living for Christ.

Paul’s continual source of joy, despite his circumstances, was Christ and his ultimate concern and his most precious possession was his relationship with Christ. He shared that good news with everyone he came in contact with, no matter what his circumstances were. Paul chose to spend his time in prison working for the kingdom and he chose to look at his situation as an opportunity. He knew God had him there for a reason. He was in chains for Christ, and He was living every single moment for Him. He wasn’t afraid of dying; because he knew what awaited him in death was so much better than what he had on earth.

I wonder in our life what we are chained to? Are we chained to the things of this world or are we chained to Christ and living every moment for Him? We are all aliens living in a world of temporary things, and we need to remember that. Our home is in Heaven, so for however long we are here on planet earth, we should be living with joy for Christ, just as Paul did. We need to be a servant and a messenger for the gospel.

Jesus Christ entered this earth in the lowest possible way he could come. He came to serve and He came in a way that allowed Him to relate to all people. He suffered the persecution of those that hated Him from the very beginning, and ultimately He suffered the cruelest physical death imaginable on a Cross at Calvary. His death on a cross and His resurrection was for our eternal gain. It was out of His desire to save us that He died and our joy is found in Him! We’re free and we should live our lives that way! We were given a gift and we should be sharing that good news.

As you go about your daily lives this week, ask God to open your eyes to the opportunities to share your joy. They are in front of us everyday, but many times we let them pass by with out doing anything. We are projecting Christ in a positive or negative way every single day. Let us all strive to live our lives positively expressing the joy we find in Jesus Christ!

In Christ,


Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”