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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

An Evening At Camp

I had the opportunity to make a short drive out to Camp Zephyr yesterday to hang out with the children from our church that are in the midst of children’s camp this week.  They were all having a great time and making it through the heat just fine (I’m not sure I can say the same for our adult sponsors).

Worship at ZephyrI got in on a game of Gaga Ball and got to eat camp food and go to worship with the group before heading back last night.  The games were fun and the speaker was great but what impacted me the most was getting to watch our kids worship.  So often, I fear kids do not feel part of what happens in corporate worship on Sunday mornings.  I was moved to hear kids singing with open hearts.

It was a truly beautiful sound!

I left challenged to make sure we are more intentional in the way we plan worship services.  I went to camp to be with the kids for an evening so that maybe they would see how much I care about them and that I am just as much their pastor as any adult in the family.  I left reminded that we need to make sure they feel our church is their church.

What will we do to be used by God to form the next generation?

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Welcome Home

Where is home for you?  Is there a difference between where you sleep and home?  I pray that these places are one in the same for you.  But I am thinking of home in a deeper sense.  Home is that place you are the most comfortable.

I started a new sermon series yesterday dealing with love.  John 15:9 says, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  This word, “remain” carries some deep meaning.  Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates this verse this way:  I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.

heart-and-cross-2What a beautiful picture of home.  Finding complete contentment and security in the love that Jesus has for you!

Maybe you have been betrayed in the past.  Maybe you have been burned by someone to whom you had given your heart and love.  Jesus reminds us that God’s love is unconditional and limitless and we can rest and take up residence in his love.

Find your home in the love of Jesus today!

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Choices

My commute to the office each morning takes me past several churches.  One of the churches along my regular route has a marquis with changeable letters.  Often this church uses this sign to make announcements of upcoming events.  But occasionally it is used for a thought provoking statement.

Yesterday I noticed one of those statements and it has circled back in my mind a couple of times since.  The statement read:

Life is full of choices, eternity only has two.

ChoicesThere is truth in this statement.  We are bombarded with options every day – pulled in multiple directions to make decisions regarding everything from what shoes to wear to what car to drive to what music to enjoy.  The truth is, it would be easy to make thousands of decisions in a day without once considering truly important issues.

Is it possible that the enemy uses all the options freedom affords to distract us from considering the most crucial choice of our lives?  Satan is known for taking what God means for good and distorting it into something completely different.

Life is full of options and choices.  But the most important – literally life and death – decision an individual can make is what to do about eternity.  We only have two options – an eternity with God or an eternity without him.  God gives us that choice – and we must choose.  While it is never too late to make that choice while we still draw breath, by putting off the decision we are making a choice.

The best decision you can ever make is to live this life for Jesus.  Don’t be distracted by all the other decisions you will need to make today.  Truthfully, if you make the ultimate decision first, it will drastically impact the remainder of the decisions you will make.

Choose wisely!

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A little over a week ago, I was blessed to minister to a group of ministers in Juarez, Mexico.  It is an annual event for pastors and their wives in the Juarez area.  We meet at a hotel in Juarez and for three days we get to fellowship and invest in the lives, ministries and marriages of these wonderful servants.

This year we were privileged to have thirty-eight couples attend the retreat (which is paid for completely by donations of individuals, churches and organizations here in the United States).  It is a huge blessing to the couples who attend each year and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve them, as well as for all those who give to make it possible.

This year, one of the most meaningful and moving experiences of the weekend was the closing worship service.  We celebrated communion at that service and it was special for our team to be able to offer the elements of the supper to those who normally serve but rarely get to receive.

My sermon that morning communicated the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to overcome whatever we face.  As the pastors and their wives made their way past the offering of the bread and the cup, they were also handed a small nail to remind them moving forward that Jesus’ sacrifice truly paid all costs.  In that moment, many were moved to tears with the reality.

My writing today is two-fold:

1) To offer a heartfelt thanks to God for making this event possible (our eleventh year) and for all those God uses each year to support this vital ministry.

2) I also write to remind each of us that regardless of what we are facing today, God’s grace is sufficient.

La gracia de Dios es sufficiente!

Jesus’ sacrifice is enough!

Live into that truth today!

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I recently was blessed to have lunch with a couple who are engaged to be married. In fact, their big day is coming up next month. As we visited, the question of how they met came up. It was interesting to watch their faces as they looked at each other with looks that communicated – “so how do we explain this one?”

The gentleman began by saying they met through an app – a dating service designed around a phone app. He explained the process this way: a person signs on with the service and builds a profile within their system describing themselves – their likes, dislikes and so on. Then the person gets to scroll through the profiles of the other people who have done the same.

When a person sees someone they might be interested in – the person simply swipes right with their finger. If there is no interest in the person one simply needs to swipe left, never to see the profile again.

On the other side of the relationship equation, the person has no idea someone else is interested in them. BUT, if they happen to swipe right on the person who has swiped right on them, both are notified that there is a match that has been found and at that point, they can choose to meet.

And that is how they met. A very interesting process if you ask me.

As I heard their story, my mind began racing thinking about how this process might relate to matching up with God. As I see it (and scripture suggests), we always have a choice. According to 2 Peter 3:9, God wants to have a relationship with each and every person on earth – he chooses us first. But we have a choice. When presented with the good news – God’s profile – we can either swipe left or swipe right.  God has already swiped right for us – we just need to do the same for a relationship to begin.

Which way have you swiped?Swipe Right

I think this concept has daily ramifications as well.  We choose daily regarding commitment to follow his lordship. Each day we can choose to swipe left and do our own thing or swipe right and follow him.

Today – – swipe right!

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We began a new sermon series yesterday – Called To Be Missional.  The idea is that as believers we are called to live our lives to please God – to know God and make him known.  We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  We are part of a movement that began with Jesus building his church over 2000 years ago – and this movement actually began with a relationship that stretches back to the very beginning.

There is more going on all around us than we can possibly comprehend.  God is at work all the time – but do we see his hand at work?  There are needs we pass by everyday but has the constant sight of those needs caused us to become numb?  Have we allowed the need around us to blend into the backdrop of our daily, busy lives and thus go unnoticed?

It can be overwhelming!  When we are sensitive to seeing needs and God’s movement around us, we can become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis.  But remember this:

You cannot do everything – – but you must do something.

God created you to meet a need that only you can meet.

What an amazing calling!

Live into that calling today!

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Breaking Free

There are so many things that hold us back in this world – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, poor decisions that lead to consequences.  In a fallen world it is hard to truly live the life God truly wants for us.  In fact, on our own, it is impossible to have the life God created us to live.

The biggest barrier to experiencing God’s best for us is sin.  Because of our sin we are enslaved and held back from all that God has for us.  But God created a way for us to have the life he wants for us.Bonds Broken

In John 8:31-32 we find that Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus came to teach truth and live that truth so that we could be free.

What is holding you back today?

Jesus offers truth and that truth brings freedom.

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