Nov 30, 2007

Psalm 101 Reflections

Psalm 101 describes a person who is walking with God, and more importantly, a person whom God is walking with.

We already looked at a couple of descriptions earlier - they are a people of praise, and they are ones of character and integrity.

Here are some more observations:

First, we are told the negative characteristics of whom God rejects:
  • v. 3b - The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.
  • v. 4 - Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.
  • v. 5 - Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will i put to silence;
  • v. 5b - Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.
And, here are the positive characteristics of the person whom God walks with:
  • v. 6 - My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;
  • v. 6b - He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
  • v. 7 - No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house;
  • v. 7b - No one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.
This is not a statement of God's love toward us, but this is a truth regarding the persons whom God uses. God's love and invitation to participate in His kingdom is extended to all, however, not all will experience God's power and grace unless we walk with God.

And this is a marvelous reminder of the life we are called to live.

Nov 29, 2007

Adding Value

That we are alive today means that there is a purpose to our being alive today.

We don't think like that. Because the pressures of our agendas tasks demand our loyalty, but the biblical and theological truth is that God has us where we are for a purpose.

Since that is the case, I encourage you to ask the following question everyday - "How can I add value to _____?".

We will meet today that God wants to bless. And when we are open to what God is doing, we just might discover that we can be God's partner in bringing God's blessing to someone's life. And in so doing, we just might discover that adding value to other's lives adds value to our life.

Go ahead. Add value. Be a part of God's kingdom plan.

James <><
Check out what God is up to @

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Nov 28, 2007

Character and Integrity

Yesterday, we began looking at Psalm 101. There is another gem of a passage that deals with the inner character and integrity of a person whom God uses.

v.2b-3 says, "I will walk in my house with a blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing."

God particularly sets the house apart from other places. God does this because it’s easy to play a role in the public. But the most vile and heinous things are said and acted out in the privacy of the home. For whatever reason, with the very people we care about and love the most, we say things we would never say in front of others. God sets the home apart from other places because it is in the privacy and in the hidden places from the eyes of others that we engage in sin that we would never consider doing in public.

What we fail to comprehend fully is that while these things may be hidden from the eyes of other human beings, God sees and hears everything.

That's why these words are so awesome.

I will walk in my house with a blameless heart! Wow!

That's my goal. That's who I strive to be. That's who we're called to be.

Not only in public, but also in the home, we are to walk with a blameless heart. Character and integrity is demonstrated when we think no one is watching.

Of particular note is that we are to set before our eyes no vile thing. I think we need to take this seriously because there is so much about our entertainment choices and the availability of porn on the internet that this has to be taken into account.

It is in the context and the privacy of the home that we are to demonstrate our integrity and character.

Nov 27, 2007

The Persons God Uses

Psalm 102 is a powerful Psalm that describes the type of person God uses.

v. 1 says, "I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise."

The first thing that sets the people God uses apart from others is that they are a people of praise.

That they are a people of praise means one significant thing. They are praising because they are daily experiencing God’s power at work in their lives. If they were to sing praises and didn't have a reason to praise, we'd call such people either crazy or liars.

There are two things in particular that he is praising God for: for God’s love and for God’s justice.

God is worthy of praise because of His great love.
  • God knows what is in the heart of every man and woman and yet God still loves us.
  • God knows what we are all capable of and yet God still loves us.
  • God knows the things we have done and the things we have left undone and God still loves us.
  • God still hopes the best for us and God loves us through the ugliness of sin.
God loves us in such a way because it is this kind of love which transforms people. It expects the best of us and yet still gives us room to mess up because we are going to mess up.

God’s love is so awesome! God 's love is so great!

The second thing that distinguishes the person God uses is that this person praises God for is His great justice. God is absolutely fair and God is absolutely just. This means that there is no sin that God will overlook. God will hold people accountable for their sins.

But God knows that we can never be perfect and so God sent Jesus to pay for our sin. And because Jesus has paid the debt of sin, we are free. We are free to praise. We are free to choose God. We will not do it perfectly, but because our sin has already been dealt with, we are free to live for God.

And this is the reason why we praise God for His great love and for His great justice.

Our God is an awesome God!

Nov 25, 2007

What Does God Want for Christmas?

Every year about this time, the whole country goes gift buying crazy. That’s the way we do things around this time of the year.

Normally, I like to go over to the Barnes and Nobles at the mall to work on my sermon. I love that place. The coffee shop is there, the book store is there, the food court is just a few steps beyond. What more could a guy want?

But I’ve made a conscious effort not to go near that place right now. It’s crawling with crazy people. And I know. My wife’s already been out there a couple of times.

She’s not one of the crazy ones. She’s confirmed that everyone’s crazy out there.

And without much thought, most of us Christ-followers follow right along getting busy making lists and making shopping trips.

That’s just the way we do things around here at this time of the year.

I am all for gift giving, because it's the one time during the year where we're forced to focus on people beyond ourselves, and I think that's good. But I wonder if we’ve ever considered, what God might want for Christmas? I wonder if that thought has even ever crossed our mind?

What do you think God might want for Christmas?

What is something God might need?

What do you think would really make the heart of God leap with joy this Christmas?

If we take this – giving God a gift for Christmas – seriously, it just might totally change how we look at Christmas. It just may totally change our lives and someone else’s life too as we consider what God might want for Christmas.

So before things get much crazier with the shopping and the making of lists, won’t you take some time to sit with God and consider what He might want for Christmas from you?

It just may make this Christmas the most wonderful Christmas ever.

Merry Christmas Jesus!

Nov 21, 2007


On this Thanksgiving, how about actually giving thanks.

Before we get food coma and sit around watching football games all day or whatever your Thanksgiving plans may be, take out a clean sheet of paper and jot down the following verse, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good" (Psalm 136:1).

And then start listing the things you are thankful for - I mean everything. If you're alive, thank God for that. If you're breathing, thank God for the air. I mean whatever comes to your mind about what you're thankful for. And after you've finished writing them down. Look over that list, and make sure you give thanks to God for His goodness toward you on this Thanksgiving holy-day.

God bless you and have a wonderful holy-day.

Nov 20, 2007

Praying Daily - Part 2

Here's another way of keeping your prayer life consistent and fresh.

All churches I know have a church directory. If your church doesn't, just ask the church office for a list of names of the people of the church.

Every day, take ten names and pray for them. And once you've gone through all the names, start from the beginning again and pray for those names again. This way, we can cover the church with prayers and everyone gets prayed for. And in the process, you will see God do wonderful things through the prayers of His people.

I think praying like this would not only impact your daily prayers, but the impact the church you belong to.

God bless.

Nov 19, 2007

Praying Daily - Part 1

I think when Christians promise to pray for someone, they honestly intend to do so. I don't think we promise to pray for one another without any intention to actually pray for the people we promised to pray for.

Good intentions aside, how can we actually pray for the people we committed to pray for?

Let me share with you how I go about praying for the people I promised to pray for.

When we actually get down to it, there are so many people and things to pray for. But the problem is, even though there may be so much to pray for, daily prayer can be dull and seem repetitive. I mean, how many different ways can we pray for our church, spouses, children, friends, etc.? Particularly if we are praying for these same people on a regular basis.

I have found the following method very helpful in keeping my promise to pray for the people I promise to pray for, and to keep from having these be repetitive.

I have divided the days of the week into different prayer categories. Here's my weekly prayer schedule.

Mondays - World Mission, Global Church, Denomination. This is the day I pray for our mission partners in Uganda and Russia. This is the day I pray for people in the denomination and the greater church and for what God is doing in the world.

Tuesdays - Family. This is the day I pray for my wife, kids, parents, siblings, etc.

Wednesdays - Friends. This is the day I pray for my friends.

Thursdays - Trinity Presbyterian Church. This is the day I pray for the specific prayer requests of the people in the church I serve. I pray for the leaders of the church. I pray for the things that God is doing at Trinity.

Fridays - Weekend. I pray specifically for what God will do through Trinity's ministry to impact the lives of people. I pray for the sermon and the worship experience. I pray for the Sunday School and the Bible Studies and its leaders.

Saturdays - General Prayer. I pray for whatever God places on my heart on this day. I pray to get ready to encounter God in worship on Sunday.

By dividing up my prayers into these categories by day, I've found that it helps to keep my prayer life fresh, and that I can make sure that I pray for the people that I promise to be praying for.

May the bless you and the ones you are praying for.

Nov 16, 2007

Studying the Bible - How to? Part 2

Here's another way that I've studied the Bible on a daily basis that I've found to be useful.

God created us with a mind, heart, and body. And because God created us with a mind, heart, and body, whenever we read His word, it will impact our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.

Here's how.

As I am reading through the daily reading for the day, I ask the following three questions and I journal them by labeling them as 1, 2, and 3.

In section 1, as I am reading through the daily reading, I am asking the question, "What new thing about who God is, who I am, and/or my life is God revealing to me through the scripture?"

In section 2, I am asking the question, "How does that new understanding impact my heart?"

In section 3, I am asking the question, "What is God asking me to do based on what He's revealed to me?"

So if I am reading about how awesome God is in His faithfulness toward us, I might say something like:

1) God is always there for me when I turn to Him for guidance and strength. There is never a time where God will say no to me when I turn to Him for guidance and strength.

2) This gives me the courage and the assurance that God is always for me. That no matter what I may be going through today, because God is with me I will alright.

3) Because God is always with me and for me, I ought to also be willing to forgive and give other people the same chance that God gives me. I ought to also be for people just as God is for me.

During the application section, if that's all you write, the devil loves for Christ-followers to have such quiet times. Because you see, there is no way to tell at the end of the day whether we actually did anything about what God's showed us. When God reveals a truth like this, He will also reveal to us a person or a situation to which we must offer the same forgiveness and opportunity.

The way you will be able to discern that God is actually changing our lives is when you can look back at the end of the day and be able answer with a yes or no regarding the question - did I do what God asked me to do that day?

So, if the application is, I need to offer to John the same opportunity for second chances that God offers me, I will be able to know whether I did that for John that day.

The application section is the most important section because that's where rubber of faith meets the road. This is where faith makes a difference.

So spend some time on this section reflecting on how God wants to impact your world.

Studying the Bible - How to? Part 1

I am often asked how one should go about studying the Bible. They realize that it's important to do so and want to study the Bible, but no one's ever showed them how to do it. In the next two days, I will suggest two ways which you can study the Bible everyday.

The way I currently do my daily quiet times and study the Bible is by using the acronym S-O-A-P. I keep a journal on the computer. I used to use a note book to do it, but since I travel so much and since my computer is always with me, it's easier to just type it in. In my journaling, I use the SOAP acronym to help me organize my thoughts.

Here's how.

S - Scripture.

I go through the entire Bible in nine months and the Bible reading program I am using helps me keep track of what passages I am to read and study that day. You can find these pretty easily on the web.

Here are some sites you can check out.
These are just five of hundreds of sites that can help you with a daily reading plan. If you're not reading the Bible everyday, it's not because there aren't enough resources, it's just simply because you don't want to. If you want to grow and mature as a person of faith, there is no other way to do so without making daily reading one of your spiritual habits.

As I am reading, I simply write down the Bible passages or words that jump out at me.

O - Obervation

This is the section where I ask myself, why did these words or this passage make an impression on me? What is God trying to say to me? What am I supposed to "see" or learn from these passages?

A - Application

What is God asking me to do?

P - This is my prayer section. I write out my prayers because I find that this helps me to concentrate better than if I were to just sit and pray. But this is the time where you are communicating with God about what is going on in your day and what God is showing you.

I will share in the days to come about different ways to study the Bible and have a daily quiet time.

Why not start today to begin the greatest habit you can ever start?

Nov 14, 2007

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.

We've all heard this song. Many who grew up in the church have been singing this song since we were children.

There is an absolutely important truth in this statement that most of us miss.

Jesus loves me.

How do I know that? How can I be sure of my standing before God? How do I know that I am really forgiven? Where does the Christ-followers assurance and certainty come from? Where is our authority and our power?

Jesus loves me. This I know. How? Because the Bible tells me so.

And here's the thing. What happens if we don't know what the Bible says? What happens when you have an entire generation of people who are clueless what the Bible says? What happens when you have a church who is ignorant of what the Bible says?

You have a generation and a church who is uncertain of their identity.

You have a generation and a church that is totally impotent against the schemes and the false teaching of the enemy.

You have a generation and a church that has no clue if there is a God at all.

And this is exactly the devil's ploy. The devil doesn't mind that you might have a wonderful church experience. The devil doesn't mind that you attend church and do church things and good things. Because as long as God's people remain ignorant of God's word, they will have no idea how the good deeds, the worship, and how everything we do and how everything we are has anything to do with God.

Christ-follower, our certainty and our assurance is completely dependent upon how well we know God's word. That is why the daily study and meditation of God's word is absolutely essential to our spiritual lives. It has to be a non-negotiable. This is the bedrock of our faith, and the foundation of our strength.

Get in the Word of God and let God's Word get into you.

Everything I Need to Know About Life, I Learned from Noah's Ark

Here's a little piece that I came across. I am not sure who wrote it so I can't credit them. But it sure has blessed me and I pray it does you too.

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark.
  1. Don't miss the boat.
  2. Remember we're all in the same boat.
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
  4. Stay fit when you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
  5. Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  6. Build your future on high ground.
  7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
  8. Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  9. Remember, the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
  10. No matter the storm, when you're with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.
Thought that was pretty good.

Have a blessed day.

Nov 12, 2007

The Importance of the Important Things

Some of you might have noticed that I have not been blogging as much in the last couple of weeks. The truth is, I haven't been doing much of anything the last several weeks.

We had a couple of Russian guests visiting the church. And as the pastor who invited them, I was showing them around and playing the good host. While doing that, I neglected most of my regular habits - daily reading and praying, studying, preparing, planning. And the more I let my daily spiritual habits go, the tougher it became to get back into the swing of things.

As I look back on the last couple of weeks, it makes me mad. Not because I didn't enjoy my time with the Russians, but because I allowed myself to be so unproductive. It's as if my brain and heart took a vacation too.

There are certain things that I don't ever want to stop doing.

I don't want to ever lose my intimacy with my Savior and Lord. This is my life line. It's my connection and intimacy with God that gives me the motivation and gives me the purpose for why I am alive. And I let that slip. I don't want to let that happen again.

I don't ever want to stop learning and growing. And I haven't been reading as I normally do. And the result is that I've got nothing to share. I've got nothing to write. I've got to keep learning and studying. I don't want to ever stop learning and growing.

I let myself get out of the routine of my daily and weekly habits. I am still recovering from that. I don't want to let myself go like that again.

No matter what else is happening in my life, I don't ever cease to be a Christ-follower, a pastor to God's church just as I don't ever stop being a husband and a father. This is who I am.

Be it resolved that I will stay connected to God through my daily habits, and I will continue to learn and grow.

Nov 11, 2007

Who We're With Changes How We Fear

Isn’t it funny how who we’re with changes how we fear? About a month ago in the middle of the night, we had some severe thunderstorms go through our area. And when the storm came over our house, it sounded like and felt like the thunder and lightning were right over our house. And within a matter of minutes, Helen and my bed now held six people. And because the bed held two particular people, those four littler persons weren’t afraid anymore.

It wasn’t because the lightning and thunder stopped. It was because they were with their mommy and daddy. That changed everything.

Isn’t it funny how who we’re with changes how we fear. Who we’re with makes all the difference in the world.

That’s what our God, our Father, our Savior, is saying to you and me, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”
• I know. You’re going through some hard times. Cancer and disease has wreaking havoc in your life. Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.
• I know. The financial market looks gloomy. I know there are dark clouds ahead. Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.
• Yes, I know. You’re facing some major relational issues. You’ve had your share of heartbreaks. Take courage. I’m here. Do not be afraid.

Did you know that this is the most often repeated command in the entire Bible? Someone has counted that there are 365 “Take courage” “Do not be afraid’s” in the Bible – there is a Take courage and not be afraid for every single day of every year. Child of God, you are never alone. So take courage. God is with us. Do not be afraid.

Nov 3, 2007

The Difference Between a Ministry and a Job

I came across this piece a few years ago. Why do some churches experience dynamic growth and life while others languish in slow march to death and irrelevance? What are some of the differences in a dynamic, life changing church?

One of the characteristics of a thriving church is the people's understanding of their calling and their ministries. They don't just do something because they are supposed to. They do it because they are called to do it. They don't just do things because it's a job. They do it because it's their ministry.

Here's an article that expresses this better than I can.

If you are doing it because no one else will, it's a job.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.

If you are doing it just well enough to get by, it's a job.
If you are doing it to the best of your ability, it's a ministry.

If you will do it only so long as it doesn't interfere with other activities, it's a job.
If you are committed to staying with it, even when it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.

If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it was a job.
If you stay with it even when no one seems to notice, it's a ministry.

If you do it because someone else said it needs to be done, it's a job.
If you do it because you are convinced it needs to be done, it's a ministry.

It is hard to get excited about a job.
It is almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.

People may say, "Well done," when you do your job.
The Lord will say, "Well done," when you complete your ministry.

An average church is filled with people doing jobs.
A great church is filled with people involved in ministry.

Nov 1, 2007

Career or Calling? Which are You Living For?

John Ortberg, in his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, writes:

A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive.

A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God.

A career promises status, money, or power; a calling generally promises difficulties and even some suffering - and the opportunity to be used by God.

A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.

A career may end with retirement and lots of "toys."

A calling isn't over until the day you die.

The rewards of a career may be quite visible, but they are temporary.

The significance of a calling lasts for eternity.

(Ortberg, "Get Out of the Boat", p. 71-72).

If you are fortunate enough to retire from your career, and if the career was what you lived for, you will have wasted the precious gift of life. Your life is so much more than what you did to earn a paycheck. There is so much more to life and eternity than your career.

Pursue your calling regardless of what you might be doing to earn a paycheck. Your company, your boss, your career doesn't give rip about you or your eternity. The only thing your company and career is interested in is how much you can bring in for the company. That's not even close to being worthy of your best years, best efforts, and your life. Give your life to something that actually matters.

You are a child of God. You have a calling upon your life. God placed you here for a reason. Claim your destiny.