Monday Mentionings: Dreaming the Impossible Dream  

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A few hours until 2008...are you ready?

Yesterday, we had a great assembly! The singing sounded really good! It was good to be rejuvenated at our weekly family reunion!

Yesterday, our guest speaker spoke about the idealism that is found in the challenge of the Sermon on the Mount. How Jesus challenges His disciples (and us, as readers) to keep reaching toward that, which is, in essence, impossible to reach. Things like "turning the other cheek" when someone strikes us on the one or not worrying about tomorrow. These seem next to impossible, but it makes us want to keep reaching. Jesus gives us a dream to keep striving toward. In our own lives we need dreams, also. Dreams to be more patient, more encouraging, more evangelistic, more outreach-ing, etc. These dreams give us something to keep working toward.

What dreams do you have for God? May those dreams keep you searching/striving toward that goal! May 2008 give you abundant opportunities to work toward that goal!

Have a great time ringing in the New Year!

God Bless ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Making a Courageous Decision  

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Christmas is over and that means 2008 is just around the corner. Are you one who makes a resolution? Have you ever been able to keep any? Are you making any for next year? What was your favorite thing you received?

I enjoy "feel good" movies. In each "feel good" movie, there is a point at which the "hero" or "heroes" do something which turns the tide for the rest of the film. The result is the success that makes the movie identified as "feel good". Each of us live a "movie"...what will you do to turn the tide? This brings us to this week's quote...

In every success story, you find someone who has made a courageous decision. ~ Peter F. Drucker

I am greatly affected by teachers/coaches/leaders that do things to impact others. The quote holds true to most movies that fall into this category. There is a point in the movie which a character will do something that seems crazy, but in fact, is very courageous. No one has done anything like "that" before (whatever the task in the particular movie) and it makes a world of difference.

We have opportunities given to us each day, maybe each moment, to make an impact in someone else's life. Whether it is your spouse, family member, co-worker, peer, friend, or anyone else you're around.

As 2008 approaches, what will you do with the opportunities God gives you to make a "courageous decision" and create your "success" story? May you use the opportunities given to share Jesus in practical ways!

Blessings ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: Appreciating 2007  

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The day before Christmas – what are you up to? Working, spending time with family, wrapping presents, finishing up baking/preparing for tomorrow’s dinner(s), etc. Each family has different traditions regarding presents, Santa, etc. Both of our families opened gifts on Christmas Eve, so when we got married, it was an easy transition. Santa came on Christmas – in my house it was unwrapped gifts and some candy in the stocking and in Aubrey’s house it was wrapped stocking stuffers (they didn’t have to fit in the stocking). We have adopted Aubrey’s tradition for what Santa brings, which has always led to just as much fun as anything I ever experienced! Our “Christmas” will be after the 25th this year due to awaiting the arrival of family for the eagerly anticipated baby!

Christmas is about appreciating, more than anticipating. It is easy to get wrapped up in the anticipation of “what you will receive”. As I reflect over the year, it has been one of the greatest years to be appreciative. Here’s a small list…

1. My wife’s safe and healthy pregnancy
2. My marriage
3. Great church family
4. The Vision Team
5. The “Love and Respect” group
6. Installing shepherds
7. Open doors for outreach
8. Deepened relationships to those in the community

What does your list look like? I am also appreciative of many other things, but these are some things that pertain to the church family.

Yesterday, we looked at the “wise men” following the star – finding Jesus. As you go to the star, which is Jesus (the light and morning star), may you find comfort, reassurance, hope, and joy to guide you through life, specifically this holiday season.

May God bless you with a safe and joyous holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

Being Appreciative ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Try It, You May Like It  

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We tend to be more reserved than adventurous. Sometimes it may be because we have been “taught” that the things we want to do aren’t going to work. Other times we may simply doubt our own abilities. Whereas, still other times we are not in a place to follow through or there may not be the resources available to make it seem like it can happen. When this quote came into my “inbox” this week, I was so thankful because I knew it was what I was going to use for this week’s quote…

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s focus on critics, rather than resources. Just Tuesday, my wife and I watched a movie called “August Rush”. The movie deals with a boy who was raised in an orphanage and has a keen ear for sound. His mother was a cellist; father a guitar player and singer. He has music in his genes. The kids at the orphanage tease him because he tells them that he is going to find his parents and that “the music will lead him.” He is labeled a “freak”. Without giving away too much of the movie, he makes his way, despite being encountered by many critics and obstacles, to find his mom and dad. There were many points which he could have quit – after all he’s an eleven year old. Instead of quitting, the young man continues on – mapping out his course – in courage to make his way toward his destination/goal.

What are you seeing in your future? Where would you like to be/go? What does 2008 bring to you? Do you have plans to do something (short or long term) and have critics putting the idea down? Or is the Enemy himself telling you it won’t work? Someone out there will always have a difference of opinion to say “you’re wrong”, but don’t be tempted to believe that. Map out what steps it takes to get to your goal (don’t forget to start with prayer, bathe it in prayer, and end with prayer!) and GO FOR IT! Even if there are many stops between point A and B, enjoy the journey of knowing you are going toward your goal – despite the critics!

Ready for Christmas? Only a few days left!!!

Have a great rest of your week!

Merry Christmas!Share/Bookmark

Working on the Inside: Psalm 51:1-12  

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Have you ever cut into an apple, just to find that it is all mushy, gross, and over ripened? The outside still looked fine, but the inside was definitely not fine. That is the way we can be from time to time, with our faith. Our outside may look perfectly fine, but the inside is not. Yesterday, we looked at a psalm which David penned months after he had been in a sinful slump, couched around the lust and affair with Bathsheba. The 51st Psalm deals with David's shame he felt after the situation with Bathsheba. David saw, he slept, he swept (things under the rug), and he surged (Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, and to the front line of the army, thus killing him). With each one listed previously, David sinned! We've all been there, in one way or another, but just as David was pleading to God to cleanse his heart, we all must pay careful attention to what condition our hearts are in, because God works from the inside out. Here are some additional applications to take with you and choose from this week...

  1. God can do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and at the same time He can do things with us and within us that is very powerful also. However, we must be willing to let Him work, to say to Him something like, "Here I am, send me" (Isaiah 6:8). Pray a prayer of submission to God, renew your faith by telling God "I'm here, what do you want me to do, today/this week/this month/with my life.
  2. Each one of us has some type of a barrier that Satan seems to use to his advantage to keep us from or slow us down when it comes to serving God. David asks for a renewed steadfast spirit. What is your barrier? Busyness, time management, lack of interest in serving in a ministry, unknown interest in serving, personal struggles - job, marriage, family, relationships, sin in past or present, or you fill in the blank. Pray that God will reduce your barrier to the point of removal so that you can serve Him with a renewed and steadfast spirit!
  3. Imagine what it must be like to have a life ahead of you that requires needles being stuck in your body over and over for the sake of your health? Some of you with diabetes know what it is like to have to do that. The question above reflects upon a three-year-old who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. So, from three-years-old until the day he passes on, he will have to endure the difficulty of having injections of insulin - over and over and over. He must do this with a willingness to stay healthy. God works in you, are you willing to put up with the pain and repetitiveness that comes with submitting to God as you "take up your cross" daily? There are blessings, as well as, costs when it comes to serving. Regardless of which one your life is given more of, heaven is the ultimate prize! Pray that God will grant you a willing spirit so that you may be sustained!!!

May God bless you this holiday season as you share "the gift" of Jesus to everyone you meet!

Have a great week!

Blessings ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Coming Alive  

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Each one of us has interests which excite us. This could range from hobbies to television shows. You "come alive" when you take part in a hobby, and anticipate that excitement when you know you will take part in that hobby in the future. Why is that? As we strive to use our every day life to serve God, in the specific realm of sharing the Good News message, which one of your interests could you use to benefit the Kingdom? As we looked at "Faith on the Move" on Sunday, this quote went along with that...

Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~ Howard Thurman

Being "alive" brings a positive energy. If each person used what interested them and found a way to share the Good News at each opportunity, I think the times we met together would take on a different look. Even if you weren't able to use your hobby each week, you would still have an anticipation for that next time. Make a list of your interests and/or hobbies - from favorite television shows to knitting. Then, see how you can use that to God's glory. If it is a TV show, maybe you can invite friends over to watch with you. Or, you can look for a moral principle to discuss with someone you know who has an interest in the same show. If it is going out to eat, you can invite someone to go with you that you haven't been out with before. There are endless possibilities, but the main thing is to be using that time to share Jesus - informally or formally.

What does the world need?...It needs you "coming alive" and going out to spread the Good News! So, what makes you "come alive"? Now that you've answered that, use those answers to His glory!

Making a list ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: Faith on the Move - Genesis 12:1-13:18  

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Our assembly, yesterday, was a great boost to my week! There were lots of smiles being spread, which is always good. Assembly was followed by a great brown-bag lunch. The last thing we did together was singing Christmas carols and spreading joy to the folks at the nursing home! We had a great turnout and the singing reflected it!

Got a tug at your heart to do something, maybe specific, for God? It could be a variety of things and it could be in addition to something you are currently doing. James says, "faith with out action is dead" (James 2:26). Often times this verse is used to illustrate that we need to be doing things like reading our Bibles, praying, attending worship, etc., which are all great things we need to be doing. Though I didn't use this verse (or text) in yesterday's message, I emphasize that the action involved may sometimes be something as simple as picking up a phone to call a person who you know is going through a rough patch. It doesn't always have to be formal or to the extent that Abram/Abraham did. Here are some other applications to choose from to use from yesterday's message...

  1. I cringe when I am in an uncomfortable place and I am a much more relaxed driver when I am in a city where I know where I'm going - it doesn't matter the size of the city. However, though the first time may be uncomfortable, the second is a little less, and by the third, there are practically no uncomfortable feelings left. I am sure, to an extent, the same works for you. As you feel God asking you to "leave" a particular situation to go to a place that is uncomfortable, know that it only takes a few times of exposure before you get comfortable. As you may be nervous about sharing Jesus, I encourage you to go ahead and do it (through an invitation, a kind word, informing you'll pray, an act of kindness, etc.) and it will become easier and easier. God tells us to "Go and share the gospel" it is up to you to decide if and how you are going to do it.
  2. Promises inspire. Any coach that could promise a win if they played well would inspire their team to try as hard as they could. Positive motivation works wonders. I use it in subbing and it is amazing how well the kids respond. Read Genesis 12:1c-3 to see the eight different promises God makes to Abram. As you plan out your day, focus on what God has promised to you - in these and any other verses - at let it encourage you to look at your "schedule" a bit differently!
  3. You may not know where the conversation/situation may go, but tell the next person you come in contact with, outside of our church, something you appreciate about them (if you know them) or tell them how much you appreciate what they do for you, or some other comment to surprise them that you complimented them. This is an example of getting your faith in action. Abram didn't know where he was going, just like you may not know where your conversation/situation may go, but "by faith" you share.
  4. As you drive around your neighborhood this month, say prayers for particular people you know. Pray for their day, family, open doors, soft hearts, safe holiday travels/season, marriage, kids, your influence, etc. Your "land" is vast - use it to God's glory!!! Who knows what He'll reveal to you over time as you pray!

Abram is esteemed as a man of faith, but as we saw yesterday, there were times which he failed miserably. May you be encouraged to put your faith in action, even if you make mistakes.

May God bless you with many open doors and soft hearts to share Jesus!

On the Move ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragment: Forging Character  

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When I was a child, I looked at the people I was around the most, in their teens and above, and would form some sort of a thought about whether I would like to be like them some day. I remember people who I thought were "cool" and fun to be around, which could have been for different reasons, depending on their age. Sometimes, I would think to myself that I wanted to be like them when I was older because they exhibited something that was good. However, there were definitely those who were not someone to imitate and those who I thought were "cool" but ended up not being someone to look up to after all. Outside appearance and actions do not always define a person's character. This brings us to this week's quote...

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one. ~ James A. Froude

Having a father as a principal for four small schools meant that I was around a lot of people throughout my life. This gave me the opportunity to be influenced by a lot, too. However, many of those people did not turn out to be anything like they appeared to be, once they became adults. Even some of the adults weren't as good as they appeared once I became an adult.

No amount of "dreaming" will magically create us to be what we become or want to become. The valley and mountain peak experiences and journeys have helped "hammer and forge" me into what I am today. As life continues, then the valleys and peaks that are in my future will continue to affect what I will become. To become a person of great character, we must be "hammered" to become that person because simply dreaming about it does not make it happen.

As you end your week, may you use the circumstances/situations that come your way or have come your way, to "forge" you into a finely crafted person of great character.

Blessings ~

Monday Mentionings: What an Embarrassment - Genesis 38:12-26  

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What was your most embarrassing moment? Sometime during our life we do something, in a setting where others are around, that is embarrassing. Unfortunately, for some, their “moment” may have been a result of bad judgment. If such was the case, it wasn’t a “moment” but rather a chapter in their life. Maybe that was the case for you. Yesterday, we looked at Genesis 38 and the story of two people, Judah and Tamar, each making poor choices that resulted in being, what some my consider, an embarrassment to the family name. However, through their incest relationship God brings about an amazing outcome…our Savior! Here are a few applications from yesterday’s lesson…

  1. Sometimes a poor judgment can result in feeling like your world is crashing in on you. Your judgment may be clouded which results in wanting to do something “crazy”. Jesus calls us to give our burdens to Him in Matthew 11:28-30 when He says, “if you are weary and heavy burdened, come to me and I will give you rest.” Whenever you don't know what to do, may you give your "craziness" to Him!
  2. If we took your life and filmed it, then showed it to your church or co-workers, how many things from your week do you think you would be cringing when it was shown? I am sure we all would want to cringe sometime during the "reveal". However, let us learn to give grace to others when they make mistakes by understanding that we all have times which we have “logs” in our own eyes (Matthew 7:1-5).
  3. Have you ever done something that you had a difficult time thinking that God could/would forgive? Be encouraged and Praise God that there is no sin that God can’t forgive when we decide to commit to follow Him! God’s grace is amazing…a grace that “will pardon and cleanse within.”

Be encouraged and strengthen as you keep fighting the good fight of faith!

Don't let a clouded past deny you from having a fresh faith!

How has God been working through you lately? Leave a comment...

A forgiven embarrassment ~Share/Bookmark