Saturday, January 31, 2009

Papers, Voices, Decisions, Whatever You're Doing God, It's Good

Sanctus Real Lyrics
Something Heavenly (Whatever You%27re Doing) Lyrics

Papers, Voices, Decisions, Whatever You’re Doing, God, It’s Good

This has been a bad week for clutter on my desk. There are two papers that are waiting for my signature. God has taught me over time that decisions in my life are never to be taken lightly. The last time I gave paperwork this much thought was when I was in college. It’s funny that I’ve had papers to sign for cars, houses, marriage and those papers didn’t sit long in front of me. Those decisions were made before I ever looked at the fine print, but this decision, I’ve stared at a lot this week.

My wife and kids see the decision as easy. They’ve gone to Staples, found their little red button and pressed on. For me, it’s been like Hamlet. The decision should be easy, but it drags on in my mind. I think the reasons the decision is different are simple. The first is that like every decision in my life from this point going forward, it affects more than me. Every choice I make takes on how much it affects Mindy, Megan, James and Maggie just as much as it affects Frank. From deciding on buying baby food or McDonald’s to another car seat or baseball tickets, somebody could be shorted out. Usually I vote against myself, how about that for loyalty?

The second and equally significant reason is the past. Every one of us has that little audio-video recorder in our head and somehow it is able to store all that tape better than my sock drawer. Something in that head of mine also knows when to pull the tape and play it to make any decision longer. I’ll give you an embarrassing example. I want my kids to learn all the important stuff early so that they don’t miss out on all the fun stuff later on. What tape plays every time I worry about my kids not being on pace? The tape of me being in the third grade and sitting in the Linden School auditorium and have Brenda Hopkins come up to me and ask why I wasn’t jumping on the trampoline. It wasn’t medical. I didn’t want to take off my shoes because I hadn’t learned how to tie them and I was embarrassed to tell anyone. I told Brenda and she taught me how to do it. After that, I played on the trampoline and had a great time. Needless to say, Megan is three and is already learning how to tie knots. She did a great job on my scarf the other day. It took me ten minutes longer to go out and start my car because of it.

But isn’t that what fear does to us? It cripples us from doing even the simplest of things. It’s almost paralyzing and it stops us cold. God doesn’t want us to have a spirit of fear. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear , but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” God wants us to think clearly.

When Jesus gives the Great Commission, he lets us know that because of the Holy Spirit that he will be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), but as Paul was giving final instruction in Hebrews, he came to a series of verses that seemed to jump out to me that connect to my final point. I’ll start with the second half of verse 5. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you, so we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

The other part of looking back to the audio-video recorder of mine is recalling some former leaders in my life and the memories of how I was treated by them or how their ministry ended up has made me do the most thinking. God allowed me to sit for a couple days and research what I would call a “Where are they now?” of some of the ministries I’ve been a part of and relive a few uneasy moments of other ministries.

In all, I’ve been involved in different ministries for the better part of a decade at times throughout the last 15 years or so of my life. I looked back at the television ministry that I spent most of four years with and realized that there is not a trace of anyone involved in the hierarchy of that ministry still active in ministry but yours truly and one other individual. We were not high on the chain of command. It saddens me to think that the marks of that ministry are all but gone. I see pastors that I had high thoughts of along the way are either no longer in ministry or in almost different fields altogether. I sat back thinking that I don’t have a lot of references to look back for recommendations that I am trying my best to accomplish the tasks given to me by God.

Then I heard other voices. Voices not meaning to make me question myself, but I did for a couple days. One voice spoke that our church is looking for more leadership from the younger generation, the 20’s and 30’s. Bad news for me. I turn 40 in May. Then in introducing another ministry leader this past week, it was told of the degree attained that qualified the person for the ministry. Amazingly, from 2004 to 2006, I pursued that same degree at Greenville College and now sit nine hours from that degree. More bad news. The degree program is now defunct at Greenville. I would have to start over somewhat if I went somewhere else to continue that pursuit. I had begun to think just maybe, my chance to be a real blessing to the church might have passed me by. My desire to step up and be a leader in the church and for the Christian community at large may not be a possibility any longer.

As I said to one of my three pastors a couple weeks ago, I know God is working in my life about being submissive in 2009. I told you earlier that all my decisions go through the test of how it affects the family. But for this decision, I have to ask myself, can I submit to the powers of my church and still feel OK to do the ministry. It’s not about my pastors. I love them. You have to know them to understand how they work. Tyler is the man of enthusiasm. His energy picks me up when I just on autopilot. He reminds me of people that get all turned on just after salvation. They are so eager to get in the game. The difference is that he’s always like that. Van is the polished one. He delivers messages dead-on and looks like he’s never done anything other than what God tells him. God has let me see that he’s human lately and that gives me even more respect for him. I don’t know Bill as well as Tyler and Van, but he’s the guy that keeps the ship together. He is like I wish I could be when I open my mouth. He’s quiet until he needs to speak and when he does, it’s on the point and that’s it. There are no long boring stories with him.

But after being burned a few times and with the knowledge that I might get passed by because of my age, I was concerned. I began looking for verses on submitting to authority. I liked Ephesians 5:21 as it tells us to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” But that is to all Christians walking in the light, not to authority.

Then I turned to Hebrews 13:17 and found the best instruction on submitting to leaders. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” I think as followers, we never think of pastors as having to give an account for us. When they stand before God, their weight is a lot heavier because they were chosen to lead. I love the second part of the verse. I never want my leadership to look God in the eyes and go “You know that Frank guy, he was such a pain in you know what. He never listened to us and he made all kinds of trouble.” I’d rather hear, “That Frank was great to serve with. He seldom complained and always tried to respect us and follow the tasks we gave him.” I’m sure all of you want to be that way too.

By the way, I got a real talking to when it came to worrying how qualified I am to serve. One of my friends called me this week and asked me what I was worried about. He told me what I already knew. He just added scripture to show me how smart he really is and how much learning I still have to do. Oh yeah, you think you’re done studying when you get saved. Wrong. You learn until you die or you’re already dead in the water. Read your Bible. (Sorry, that was an aside.) My friend told me, “Look, God only wants two things. He wants you to be faithful and to be willing.” David tells us this in Psalms 37:28, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off.” He’s not going to leave me or anyone else that is faithful.

My friend also left me with a song that has been my prayer for as long as I can remember it. Tom taught it to me in our first Bible study and I’ve never forgotten the song. Neither had my friend. The song is based on Psalms 51:10-12 and it goes like this.

Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me (repeat)
Cast me not away from thy presence O Lord,
Take not thy Holy Spirit from me,
Restore unto me the joy of my salvation
And renew a right spirit within me.

So after sitting in the pew for almost a year, I signed that document today. It states that me and my family want to join and be members of a church that I believe has been looking out for us for all of that year. It’s called a membership covenant. Yep, we renewed our vows and married a church. Lord, I pray that it is a match made in Heaven.

I love you guys!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

10 Songs That Have Moved Me In January

Hey everyone!

Usually, I have a video start off my blogs, but today I decided to do something different. Not every song I hear fits nicely into a blog/message and I don’t want people to miss out on some really good stuff. I want you to get a chance to hear some music that you may not get a chance to hear otherwise. After each video clip, I’ll write a little commentary on why the song is important to me.

Lecrae’s Rebel is an awesome hip hop song. I love rap music. The lyrics of this song are great. The spoken part at the end is what really grabbed me. “You wanna be a rebel? Grab and read your Bible. It’s the only rebellion left.”

Matthew West’s The Motions is a song that talks about struggling with putting your faith out there. This song will inspire you to step out and step up.

This song from Chris Rice is almost 15 years old, but Cartoons is a song that reminds you that it’s OK to have fun being a Christian. The idea of cartoon characters doing worship is just silly fun. Enjoy it.

Brad Reynolds is a newer artist who has become one of my friends on MySpace. This is his first video Anyway. The video tells a nice story and the chorus is powerful.

Jeremy Camp’s There Will Be A Day is the current #1 song in the US and the words of this song are why. The song is a powerful message of hope.

Brooke Fraser’s Shadowfeet speaks of maturing and growing on this walk and that in the end, we will be proven worthy. A very cool song. I also wish I had found a version of her song called You’ll Come. It is equally moving.

Addison Road has a fun video called All That Matters. The video is one of the better ones I’ve seen and the chorus gets stuck in your head.

A video from Above the Golden State that is getting a ton of airplay on Gospel Music Channel. The song is The Sound of Your Name and I love it because it’s just really catchy.

This was a nice video done to Natalie Grant’s newest one, Our Hope Endures. I absolutely love the video and the song proves that Natalie is at her best when she sings ballads.

Finally, a piece from one of my favorites, Steven Curtis Chapman. This is his song, Yours. The song with a simple title has a simple theme, everything belongs to God. It’s just fantastic.

I would like to thank all the people that do these videos on YouTube. They make some fabulous work of contemporary Christian music. I would like to know what you think of this video feature. I’ve thought about doing this once a month just to feature songs I may not have a fit for. They are all mini sermons and I just can’t let them get away. They speak so powerfully.

I love you guys!

Monday, January 19, 2009

As America enters transition, remember the most powerful gift is Prayer

Petra Lyrics
Prayer Lyrics

Tomorrow, the weather in Washington, DC is calling for flurries at the swearing in of our new President, Barack Obama. If I prayed for snow, not just a snow of flurries, but of a snowstorm that moved the proceedings inside and away from what could be a crazy crowd, would I be doing what is in the best interest of the people. Of course not.

The reason for that first paragraph is a series of videos from Youtube that a friend sent me about one of Focus on the Family’s correspondents praying for rain before the Democratic National Convention and the backlash of what the non-Christian public got offended over. There was one funny video with some guy praying for diarrhea before the Republican National Convention, but I think we’ve all suffered enough from the flu running through the country to share that with you today.

In a few words, I’ve talked about how important it is to be praying for President Obama and any staff that has access to bend his ear. After several letters from some of you about how defiant people are in not wanting to participate in this important aspect for our nation, I think it might be important to give a few reasons why prayer is so important, especially in this time of transition.

The first word on prayer that I usually hear when I bring up the subject is Phillippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I think the first problem that people are having is that they are not feeling thankful that we are getting a new President. I’m not Bush bashing with that comment, but what I am saying is that this is the first opportunity to pray for that real change that Mr. Obama is talking about..

Now, I will issue a warning here. Most people misinterpret these next two verses. Mark 11:20-25 talk about the withered fig tree. Jesus makes a statement in the final two verses. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Let’s make something clear. God did not play the part of the Genie in Aladdin and will not do it for us either. The second half of that statement is equally important. If you are holding grievance against anyone, it’s probably a good idea to study verses on forgiveness.

First Thessalonians chapter five might give us the best advice on prayer. Verses 16-18 state, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” You may ask, how do I pray continually? What is being talked about here is attitude. Attitude is center for prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 adds, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Some more staunch people may feel a bell ringing with this verse as it pertains to America and its culture of today.

Have you ever felt unsure or what to pray or feel emotional pain to a point that you feel like you can’t pray? God’s love has us covered. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

A major factor important in prayer is that there is healing for a people dedicated to it. In the letter written by James, chapter five verses 13-16 talk about this healing. “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call on the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The King James version states that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

If you are finding that you are not agreeing with the Obama Democratic Presidency, then it is even more important for you to pray. Matthew 5:43-45 tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven.” Luke 6:27-28 confirms this, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” President Obama may need these verses for Christian that are refusing to pray for his leadership more than those that are refusing to pray for his wisdom.

Two sets of verses that I love and will discuss in the next two entries that I make on prayer are Luke 18:1-8 and Matthew 6:5-13. I give you these to read and be ready for when I bring them up. But I will close this entry with scriptures that I found today that I thought were great not only for America, but also for the unrest around the world.

The first is how the church is described. God is speaking how salvation is available to all people in Isaiah 56 and describes those that hold to his covenant. Verse 7 states, “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for ALL nations (emphasis mine).” God is telling us that as a praying people that salvation and heaven is available for all of us.

The last set of scripture I found interesting because of a show that I used to see almost a decade ago. A man named Zola Levitt used to close his program with these words, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” I always thought that was nice, but never realized until recently that he was quoting Psalm 122. I’ll start in verse six. “Pray for the peace in Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ’Peace be with you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” May that be our prayer for all warring areas of the world right now.

I love you guys!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oh Yes I Did! Please Word of God Speak To Us

Note to readers: The words to this song are in the video.

Have you ever had one of those prayers that as soon as you pray simply and sit quiet that God bursts on the scene and gives you so much insight that you are stunned. I had one of those prayers today. I laid down in my bed just asking for God to give all my kids rest for a nap and help me in my struggle against the tide of sin that rushes against my life and my prayer exploded into over an hour and a half of the best insight I’ve had since beginning this ministry. And on top of that after the prayer was over, I got an hour nap of my own while my kids finished their almost three hour nap. That almost never happens. All three of my kids slept during the same time period.

The heart of my prayers lately was for God to give me what I am supposed to talk about and help me using His Word so that it’s understood that the words I write are from God and not my own total thought. He started with a question. How do you expect to use MY WORD to its fullest intent unless you are deep in reading THE WORD? I have been reading, but as I told you in an earlier post, I am trying to finish it all this year. God helped me understand that it was important that I increase the rate of my reading so that I am learning more and more from Him quicker.

So I asked God and myself a question. If all the power is in the blood, then what is the real value of His Word? God then probably chuckled to himself and decided to go quiet and leave the research to the fine fingers of me. So here’s a summary of what I’ve learned and am passing on to you.

The Word is important early in life as Psalms 119:9 tells us that a young man will keep his way pure by living according to God’s Word. It is followed up two verse later telling us that “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The writer of Psalms continues in verses 105-106 with “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” God’s Word is so important that the writer takes an oath to keep it. Sometimes I wonder if Christians today should take the same oath to try to keep the Word. I think many do mentally even though it may never be verbally acknowledged.

Earlier in the Psalms (Psalm 12:6), David writes that the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. The word flawless is used three other times in scripture (2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30 and Proverbs 30:5). The image of purification is significant. However, instead of once, David tells us that it is like being purified seven times. I would think that much purification would only produce the best of the best in silver.

All of the other references I will use for this commentary but one come from the New Testament. The first appears in Matthew 24. Verse 35 tells us that heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will not. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word is the sword of the Spirit. In Hebrews 4:12, it is explained. “For the Word of God is living 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.”

Having that knowledge and using that Word will affect our decisions and the way we treat others. Colossians 3:16 tell us how to live with that knowledge. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Yes, having the love of the Word of God helps you sing better, which might explain some of the freak shows from American Idol. We definitely need to be praying for some of them, now don’t we?

Having the Word doesn’t always guarantee that we’ll be cheerful, but Phillippians 2:14-16 tells us that we should have a good spirit in using it. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” This was Paul encouraging the Phillippians, but ought we not live to live the same way.

James takes that point further in his book’s first chapter. In verse 22, he admonishes us not just to listen to the word but be doers. In verses 23-24, he explains that if we only listen and do not do what it says that we are like “a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” In verse 25, he finishes the verse by stating that if we do look intently and do as it says that “he will be blessed in what he does.” That sounds like how I want to live.

The Word does not come without warnings. Paul encouraged Timothy in his second letter to him in chapter two, verses 14-15. “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Paul adds two more important points to the Corinthians about the Word. The first is in 2 Corinthians 2:17. “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” Paul wanted people to understand that the word wasn’t for sale. The Word is the truth and isn’t to be changed to make a buck. I won’t tell you the number of times I thought about sending these words to some televangelists I’ve seen.

The second poin the makes is in the same book of chapter four. He starts the chapter by stating, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Paul wanted to drive the point home that he was speaking honestly and sincerely.

I’ll end this with two other words of warning that God says about misusing his Word in scripture. The first is Proverbs 30:6, “Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” That’s something you never want to happen when you speak with authority. You risk losing all credibility. The first question I ask when I read something and find it to be false is this. Was it a misspeak or was it deception? I’ve met many men who were not great speakers or writers and they messed up accidently. Those types usually will admit the error and either correct it or at least say there was a misunderstanding. I tend to give those folks a few more chances to prove themselves.

The last is the gravest warning of misuse of the Word and comes at the end of Revelation. Chapter 22, verses 18-19 say this, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” I realize these two verses talk about the book of Revelation, however, I think this should serve as a heavy warning for those that wish to use God’s Word for uses other than intended.

In the early days of teaching Sunday school at Bible Baptist, I remember telling my friend Randy Jackson that teaching the Bible was different than teaching in the school system. I was nervous every time before a Bible lesson. Why? Because I realize this: If I don’t teach the Word of God as intended, accidental or otherwise, there could not only be consequences for me, but also for the people of which I have been graced to teach. I don’t care how you slice it, teaching God’s Word is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I pray always for the right words for people to understand and receive full blessings toward what God wants them to learn and that if I ever state something incorrectly, that it will be explained to me quickly, so that I can try to do the right thing and make sure the words are the proper ones.

God wasn’t done with me when he gave me those ideas to look and research words on The Word. He gave me other items to talk about and I pray that I am able to give the same care and appreciation of each topic that I cover as part of One Man Revival. I thank each and every reader for taking time to read and encourage any comments that will help me or any other person that is reading at these pages.

I love you guys!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Keeping it simple on the weekend, embracing Amazing Grace and giving you a couple quick hits

Frank’s note to readers looking for lyrics: Most know this song and what was amazing is that there was not a version of lyrics on the internet that was complete to this version of the song. If you need lyrics for this one, email me and I’ll patch a better version of lyrics together. It won’t be as pretty as the ones I usually get from Metrolyrics.

This has been a very interesting and busy week and for this weekend edition, I’m going to patch a few ideas that have been put in my brain this week together since none have come together as one complete piece. Sometimes God makes his points quick and concise. For the writer in me, that’s a tad frustrating, but I think that sometimes it’s nice to leave with several things to ponder.

The first idea to cross my thoughts after I last wrote was about my favorite song or songs. I have such a list of favorite songs for every season of my life that it’s hard to narrow it down to one. I may talk about some of my favorites in another post, but one thing I found in my discussions with friends old or young was that everyone loves one version or another of Amazing Grace. One of the things I like about great music is that it stands the test of time. Most Christians I know have a story around a time they heard Amazing Grace and that version means something to them. My favorite is the one you see in video form above by Crystal Lewis. To me, Crystal’s version stands out like Whitney Houston’s Star Spangled Banner. It’s the version I think of when I think of the song.

Another major thought this week is discipleship. I’ve had a couple great thought conversations with Josh Lloyd from the youth group I was a part of at Bible Baptist One of the things I’ve always liked about Josh is that he’s a thinker and he often asks questions that make me think. Discipleship isn’t always me teaching you something. Sometimes, you get to teach me something. That’s the great thing about this life on Earth. You learn something pretty much every day until you die.

His second thought provoking idea was talking about how he and many Christians are struggling to just pray for Barack Obama as our new President. Trust me, I’ll give a disclaimer here. I don’t necessarily stand behind any candidate for any office, but what God has told me to do is to pray for my leaders. I’ll give you two sets of scripture to think about.

The first is 1 Timothy 2:1-4. 1)I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-2)for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3)This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4)who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Part of my response becomes personal opinion here, but another man said it best to me today that he felt the biggest problem that George Bush has had over the past few years is that Christians in America stopped praying for him. As a nation, I agree and think that we became complainers rather than prayer warriors. We do the same thing to people that aren’t doing what we want. “Lord, fix them” or “Let that person see my point of view.” We stopped praying, “Lord, Mr. Bush is our leader and please counsel him to do what is your will.” That’s what we need to Barack Obama, whether I fully agree with him or NOT.

The second set of verses drives this point home. Titus 3:1-2 tells us, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2) to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” How many times have I heard people rip on Bush and Obama. Obama isn’t even in office yet, so in truth we REALLY don’t know what he will do or is capable of while in office. I know it’s hard to pray for someone when we don’t agree with their views, but as you see, this is what God asks us to do.

I’ll take it a point further. I’m not necessarily a fan of Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Life. I do think there are good things in the book, but I’m shaky on where I stand with the rest of his philosophy. That’s for another day. However, Rick Warren has something that I don’t have. He has the ear of Mr. Obama. Rick Warren is a Christian man and probably will attempt to persuade him to do things that do agree with how I think. Truthfully, I need to be praying for him and any other person that is counseling Mr. Obama. Why? It’s quite simple. Something these people say may lead to decisions that affect us all. I pray for the same brand of wisdom to be delivered to these people that King Solomon prayed for during his time as king in the Old Testament.

Finally, the last thought that has pierced my brain today was from Richard White. The two of us were having coffee and Diet Coke this morning at Joe Sippers and we were talking about how one of the jobs I had was as a surveyor at Walt Disney World in Orlando a few years back. One of the concepts that was taught to all Disney employees and taught to us as independent surveyors was that the guests to the theme park may only be here once in a lifetime. Some people save for years, literally, just to come see Mickey and the band while their children are at an age to enjoy it. It is made very clear that when we survey them that we do not interfere in that “once in a lifetime” experience.

After that, it began rolling around in my head that we do that for people going to Disneyland, but not for people when they come to church. Why? It’s certainly not because people are spending their life savings when they come to church. But they are perhaps in a situation that could be “once in a lifetime” to make a decision for eternity. Even though the financial cost is definitely less, the spiritual investment is of great magnitude.

Unfortunately, most people have an attitude that it’s up to the staff and the super saints to make people feel welcome. We shouldn’t be like that as a church at any church. People ask why church attendance is in major decline and I can answer with this. We aren’t making people feel like it should be part of their lives. We aren’t welcoming people like grandma did when people came upon her porch. I’m not saying that we offer coffee, but what I am saying is that we should be more cordial. Kindness never hurt anyone.

We want to make friends and make people part of the community, but don’t want to take 30 seconds to say hi to our neighbors and check to see how their day is going. I’m not just talking to you. I’m guilty of it sometimes, too. God wants us to grow together. Sometimes it is just as simple as a smile. So when you see someone you’ve never met, throw a little love around. It might just make your day.

I love you guys,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lord, keep me humble, on pace with The Message and make my blog one of High Calling

4 Him Lyrics
The Message Lyrics

When I started with the idea of this ministry, I came full knowing that I wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives and be an encouragement to them as they live the life of Christ. This weekend I got really excited as my numbers finally got to a point on Facebook that they list all of my blogging activity and where the highest concentration of where people are from. I got even more excited as I looked up encouragement as a keyword and saw that my little blog has become one of the top popular blogs in the Blog Network over there. My wife could feel my pride welling up. Never fear, she carries the pin.

She asked me to tell her and the kids the story of Noah from Genesis, chapters 6-9. It didn’t take me very long to get her point. Noah was 500 years old when he began building the ark and it took him a hundred years to get it ready. She liked telling the part that the only converts were his wife, three sons and their wives. That’s right. No one else.

Day after day, Noah and his sons would work on that ark. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about those days. You know there were scoffers and mockers. If you’ve seen the movie Evan Almighty, you get the idea of how much the idea would’ve been made fun of in modern times. But Noah did as the Lord commanded. He didn’t worry about the number of the converts. Thanks honey for making sure I stay humble.

I couldn’t imagine it, a hundred years without one person changing their heart to what God wanted. I struggle when days go by that I don’t get a comment or two. That tells you how much more in tune with God that Noah was. That is why it is as important for me to pray for the endurance of Noah as it is for everyone else. It’s a prayer that will help me focus on why I am writing.

I love to encourage people with my writing, but I find that I need encouragement too. That’s why it is great to find other writers that are writing about God and how He makes a difference in our lives. I was reading an article written by Craig McDole over at Doorkeeper’s Journal ( He was writing about resolve and pulled up 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Craig talked about how Paul was being humble in his writing to the Corinthians (v. 1-2, KJV)"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Craig’s prayer was something I could definitely agree with. As much as I want to draw people to what I am writing, I really want to draw people to Christ and His Lordship, not Frank and his comments. I want people to see the changing power of Jesus in me, but not that I am the author of that change. To God be the Glory, I just am lucky enough that I get to ride along.

That ride has brought back some of my past in joining Facebook. In 2000, I arrived at Bible Baptist Church and soon after that arrival, Pastor Randy Jackson asked me to join him in the teen department and work with teenagers. Short of the time that I’ve spent with my own three children and my wife, the two plus years I spent with those teens were the best of my life. I was given the opportunity to see the lives of teenagers grow in Christ and see great things. I left there in October 2002 after getting married, but have always tried to keep in touch with them.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been able to connect with many of them through Facebook. It has been great. In the last week alone, I’ve had several conversations via the internet on how the memories of our times together had helped them grow beyond their teen years and into adulthood. Some of those kids to me then are having kids of their own and have matured into fantastic moms and dads, husbands and wives. Again, it does make me proud. But I realize that anyone could have stepped into my role and did what I did. There were other great adults there. I think of Danny and Sue White and the Peters and Marty and Gail Williams and the fact that their action with the teens taught me something too. God has done and continues to do great things.

I loved it last night after talking to Philip Philogene. I went to bed shortly afterwards and found myself just thinking of the times I had there. I thought of him and some of the other people that I had so much fun with. I laid there and started just thanking God for them. I sit crying tears of joy as I type this just thinking back. I want to have those kind of memories again.

After being away from there for almost six years, I finally feel like I’m in a church where that can happen. But I’m also here on the internet. As I said earlier, I just love writing about how good God is. I love reading it too. I’ve just joined a new community of writers that is doing the same. They are sharing the good news. If you want to read some of them, you can go check out They have four types of blogs and plenty of resources for Christians that want to learn and be encouraged. Give them a visit and tell them that One Man Revival sent you.

I love you guys!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009-The year that we must Pass The Flame

John Elefante Lyrics
Pass The Flame Lyrics

Hey gang!

I’ve been working on this since Wednesday. I’m never good with resolutions. I seem to always break them by the end of January and just bungle through the rest of the year thinking wait till next year. This past year’s biggest casualty became my waistline. I had lost weight for the past three years and I was really proud of myself, but this year came the wall. I hit 220 and seemed to struggle to get any lower. It was like my body was fighting me.

In December, I got an insulin pump and while I am doing better with my glucose monitoring numbers, I seem to be joining those on the Seefood Diet, you know, I see it, I eat it. I’m back up to my marriage weight of 235. That’s not so horrible, but I did start buying a wardrobe for my 220 weight and now it’s a stretch to get into those clothes.

Anyhow, the point is that I struggle with resolutions. So for three days, I’ve been thinking. For those of you that live near me, yes that’s what the big black cloud of smoke is, my brain is on fire. I don’t particularly want to just write resolutions, so I’ve decided to set some goals and hopes for the year. I’ll share them with you now and hope that some of these will stick for 2009 and hopefully longer.

The first goal is obvious. I need to get that 15 pounds back off. So friends, please try to help me. If you see me eating poorly, politely try to point me toward better food or to at least share the goodies with you or others. I may growl at first, but trust me, I’ll realize this is for my own good and will attempt to behave. You may have to speak the demon of gluttony out of me. I do like my chocolate.

Another thing I really want to get by is wasting time. I am the worst procrastinator in the world, but I fill my time with nonsense every once in a while. Sometimes I watch TV programs to get a handle on what some of the kids and adults are watching so that I’ll have something to say when they talk about their favorite shows, but some of these shows are just trash. Another of my excuses on this is tiredness and the fact that I don’t have to think, just watch. But you guys know, that is dangerous. I’ve started praying that God just prompt me when I am being lazy and watching this garbage to get up out of the chair and grab a book. It’s a hobby that I am trying to encourage my kids to do as well.

Speaking of books, I am formally making a goal here. I want to read through the entire Bible in 2009. I may not do it with some calendar made up by someone else, but I want to finally read the books I am so lacking in. I spoke on a blog earlier that I have struggled with parts of the Old Testament. This is the year I get through it. I may not start at Genesis like all the calendars say, but I think I’m going to start with Psalms and Proverbs and go from there.

This is also the year I get serious about spending time reading some of the Bible stories to the kids. I love the job the nursery does with the kids, especially Megan. Megan sits in the car and tells us what she has learned. She may not remember all of it clearly, but she is getting pieces of what is being taught and then we fill in the blanks as a regroup on the way home. But they need more. I admit, by bedtime, I am close to wiped out and I get lazy on reading to Megan and James. I need to do better.

While I give credit to the nursery for my kids, I have to give the rest of the church credit for helping Mindy and I refocus on our marriage. I’ll be honest when I say that no marriage is perfect, but we needed to reassess where we were and what we needed to work on. It’s still difficult to get out together and have a date night with no family here. I think I stunned the marriage class when I said our last date was probably before Megan was born. Since then, my mom made sure that we had a date night by going to dinner once while she was in town for nine days in December. I’ve already put in the works for another night or two while we’re vacationing in Florida in March.

One of the other areas that I give the marriage ministry credit for was to get us to think about reading together and spending prayer time together. I know I do better individually because I don’t have to have anyone to pray, but to put the power together is something that has been missing. One of the things said in class is that when you pray together you get an idea if your spouse is struggling in an area that you may not be thinking about. All of us married people think about our spouses, but do we pray for their struggles without complaining. I mean like this, “Lord, please change our spouse because they are annoying me when they act like or do this.” We may not say it like that, but that’s what we really are saying in prayer sometimes. If we pray with our spouse, we might actually pray in the way we should, FOR THEM.

The rest of my goals and hopes can be lumped into a major category. I call it what John Elefante sings about in the video above, passing the flame. I’ve said in previous blogs that we have been here in Effingham for six years in May 2009. Truthfully, we haven’t made a lot of contacts or friends. Why? There are too many reasons/excuses to share. So first, I want to make a goal of making more friends and contacts this year. We have many acquaintances, but few friends. When I think friends here in Effingham, unfortunately, I don’t need a full hand to count them. That needs to change.

I think a good first step in that is to take January and go back to New Hope 101, then join the church as members. Then, in March, get back into a marriage class and begin making friends with some of the couples that are at least near what our lives are. I do realize that most couples that are my age (39) already have kids that are near high school and some that are near Mindy’s age (31) are closer to middle school, but I see, by the ones still working in the nursery, that there are plenty of couples that will still be caring toward our kids even though there might be an age difference. In October, we were visiting a couple outside the church and I thought how cool that the teenagers of their family took in and played with my little ones so well. It was just new and neat to see.

I also would like to take our commitment to the next level too. I’m not sure if I’ve shared recently how much home groups mean to me. In 1994, when I got saved and began my walk with Christ, it was really spending time at Tom Zawacki’s house in his home group that helped most in my early growth. Yes, those Wednesday nights weren’t that great for my waistline, but they were great times of fellowship and study. They were the most valuable two to three hours of my week because I was spending time with fellow Christians in real life dealings of our walks.

I’ve talked about it in every church setting that our family has been in, but I think this might finally be the one where I will open my home to a study. The church already has home groups in their setup, called GIG groups. I think I’d like to see either a men’s group or a couples group or both, for that matter. We’ll pray and see where it goes.

The last area of resolutions, goals and hopes is with this writing. Earlier in the week, I talked of three areas that I plan on writing about in 2009 so I won’t repeat that here. What I will say is that so far, I’ve been relatively inconsistently consistent. I’ve written when I’ve had time and that has been good so far. I told Peter Brown a couple weeks ago that the format has been good even though I want to get to a point that I am writing on a daily basis. What I mean is that so far people have had time to read and think about what I’ve said rather than moving on each day. So for 2009, I am trying to set three to four times a week to write as a goal and see where God leads me with it. As I’ve said, I would love to write daily and maybe that means that other projects may open up or that God is going to use those days for me to be able to read other material or other peoples’ blogs to give you guys other sources to look at.

In either case, I want to make these contacts count. For now, I know most of you that are reading what I write. That hopefully won’t always be the case. Hopefully, God will show favor on this ministry of writing and open it to more people on the internet. That’s the goal. God gave the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach and teach the Gospel. With three children and a wife, my laptop is about as far as I can go physically. However, the internet is a great way to reach people around the globe. I do have a few readers from the other side of the planet and I’m grateful for that.

So what are some of your plans, goals, resolutions, whatever you want to call them for the year 2009? Please feel free to share and pass the flame.

I love you guys!