Milton United Methodist Church
Woolford, Maryland

Rev. Robert Kirkley


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January 13, 2008

Job said it around 2500 years ago "That which I feared came upon me". (Job 3: 25)

There have been many sincere Christians who have prayed against something undesirable happening to them, without understanding that when you concentrate on the negative you create the probability of its occurrence. Every thought that you entertain carries with it certain results -good or bad.

People who live fear-filled lives are opening the door to disaster, while people who live optimistic and positive lives create their own good environment. It is vital to approach the next 352 days with faith and the absence of fear. That will make 2008 a great year for you. There are many uncertainties that face our world, and more so with a drastic political change in our country. No one can accurately predict what 2008 may hold for us.

There is one certainty that we can claim in faith -our God is still around. That is what gives us great confidence. In 2008 don't just sit around and take whatever life sends You. Make your plans now for making it a great year. Look over into the Promised Land and claim the blessings that are there for you. Remember that the Biblical 'Promised Land' is not Heaven (that is a greater reality than this world) but living in this world enjoying everyday the great blessings that God has for you, just as He had it for the people of Israel.

The trouble was that the people of the Old Testament forgot their dependence upon God and turned to religions and other forms of false living. They forgot God and sought out their own sensuous pleasures. That created disasters.

Your most basic need is a very close relationship with God. The closer you live to God the greater your life will be. God is the Creator and He wants to create new blessings in a partnership with you.

In 2008 make it your most conscious effort to grow spiritually. Keep God centered in your thoughts. Spend more time aware of His presence and talking life over with Him. Spend more time in studying the Bible -particularly the New Testament. Let it's message fill your life.

Approach 2008 in the faith that the closer you are with God the greater will be your year. Faith conquers the problems of life.

January 6, 2008

Do you realize that the type of year you will have in 2008 is entirely determined by you? Your fate is not in the tea leaves, tarot cards, the stars or any other mechanical machination. It is determined solely by you. As in most of life your attitude is the determinant. If you have the right attitude 2008 will be great. With the wrong attitude 2008 will be just the continuation of all previous years. One characteristic of mental problems is to keep doing the same thing time after time expecting different results. The Bible makes it clear: " As a person thinks in his/her heart so is he/she" (proverbs 23:7). "According to your faith, be it unto you" (Matthew 9: 29).

The Bible challenges you to be the very best person that you can be. There is no room for being average or mediocre. God has put within you the capacity to excel, but the utilization thereof is up to you. It is such a waste to be just like everybody else when you can be someone special. .

In 2008 make the determination that you are going to be the very best person you can be. You do not do this by attacking the whole year as one, but rather being your best self one day at a time. Make it your determination every morning when you wake up "Today I will be the very best person I can be. I will do the very best job I can do. I will reach out to those around me in love."

Your responsibility is to be always be in charge of yourself. You do not let others determine for you what kind of person you will be. Don't be mean to others because they have been mean to you. Whether or not they have been kind to you, you be kind to them. Don't let their illnesses contage you.

The goal that you are reaching for in all of life is to be the very best person you can be. That is why God has put you here with all of your talents and abilities. You are a gold mine of potential -don't waste it. Allow God's Holy Spirit to work within you as both inspiration and facilitator. That is why He is here to help you to be your very best self.

Make this your New Year's resolution: "In 2008 I am going to be the best person I can be. I will always reach for the highest. I will live each day with God as my partner. I will live before others to set an example of God's blessing in my life".

December 30, 2007

In the Christmas season we have seen wondrous events - angel choirs, shepherds seeking their Messiah, Wise Men traveling a thousand miles following a star -a trip that probably took two years.

Isn't it fun to wonder? Did the Wise Men ever hear more about the baby they visited? It was 33 years later that He was crucified and then rose from the dead. By that time the Wise Men themselves could have died as the shepherds too may have.

They, as we often do, visit momentous events in their ~ inception, but then go on to live routine lives. The most transforming event that ever occurred, the event that has changed millions of lives, was the great God of all the ages coming into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Yet so many in our modern world totally ignore that event to live their own monotonous lives seeking artificial happiness, joy, and excitement. In their thirsty conditions they drink from fountains that can never quench their thirst.

What about you and the path you are traveling? Now that you have been to Bethlehem, now that you have seen the Christ, how has it changed you?

Jesus Christ is far more than a mere moment in history. Seeing, even worshipping, Him at Christmas is only the beginning and never the end. You have just been through a colossal experience. Where do you go from here? We know so much more than the shepherds or the Wise Men. We have a Bible that they never saw. We know about the redemption of Calvary and the Risen Christ. Millions have acclaimed Him as Lord and Savior.

Does Jesus Christ truly live in your life? Have you ever acknowledged Him as your Lord and Savior? It is so easy. Just talk to Him and give yourself more fully to Him than ever before. Allow Him to be the master of your life. Walk with Him everyday and be aware of His presence. Then share Him with others. The shepherds, after leaving the Christ-child, went and told others all the good news. The Christ within you can help other lives also. They too can be lifted to the abundant life that Christ has for all.

What on earth are you doing for Heaven's sake? Live everyday so that God is working through you to touch others for Him.

December 23, 2007

People have the ability of taking holy things and turning them into something evil. God has given us a great world that started out as a garden, but we have turned it into a swamp of hatred, pollution, religion and evil.

Even in the Christian faith the theologians have taken the holy events of Christmas and made it into a complexity of conflicting dogmas, theology and denominational controversies.

The basic truth of Christmas in so very simple. God was undoing all the evil that people have perpetrated, forgiven all sin, and offered to open a new relationship with Himself and people. We call that new relationship 'salvation'.

God saw the mess that people have made of the world and said "1 have to go down there and help them". The word "Emmanuel" means "God with us". God took upon Himself a human form so that humans might be able to lift themselves to a higher level in and through God. All of this was accomplished by

the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

We make being a Christian so complex when God made it so simple. We list all the things that people must do, and the things they can't do. We make it more complex by trying to decide what is the right church to attend and also saying that if you belong to the wrong church you are headed for Hell.

What is Christmas? The word "Bethlehem' means 'the place where God meets my needs'. The manger reminds us that the great things of God start out in the simplest of ways. The poverty of humanity opens to us the riches of God. The wholeness of Christ overcomes all of our sicknesses and leads us to Life. The efforts we make to manufacture an artificial life are nothing compared to the exciting abundant life that Christ gives.

What is a Christian? It is a person who has opened his/her life to God and acclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When Mary and Joseph arrived at Bethlehem the inn was already crowded by the host of people that were traveling there to register for the Roman census. The Scripture says "There was room for them at the inn".

Is there room in your life for Jesus Christ. This Christmas open your life anew and more widely than ever before and allow your Lord and Savior to fill your life to overflowing. Being a Christian is so simple. Just pray "Lord Jesus, I thank you for coming to help me and right now fill me anew with your presence and power as I give myself totally to you".

December 9, 2007

People create crises - God never does. God creates solutions to crises. That is the history of the world since creation. People cause problems and God has to solve them. That is what Christmas is all about.

God creates our world and gave it a good start but people turned to evil, religion, and false gods. Things went from bad to worse. God gave them spiritual leadership but they turned that into religious hypocrisy. God gave them the sacrificial system to teach them about the seriousness of sin but they turned that into meaningless formality. He sent them great prophets and spiritual guides but some were persecuted and some put to death.

God finally said there is only one way I can straighten this out -I've got to go down there and give them one more chance. That is the meaning of Immanuel- "God with us". Sometimes people think that Christ came into our world to save us from sin. WRONG. Sin is only a symptom of the problem but it is not the problem.

The problem is that people need to be restored into fellowship with God. People need God and no substitute will ever be found for God. Augustine, the great teacher of 1600 years ago, prayed: "0 God, You have created us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you".

The reason that there is so much evil (of all types) in our world is that people have turned to physical things to try and placate spiritual needs. The human heart will never be satisfied unless and until it turns back to God.

Jesus Christ (God in human form) came into our world to reunite us with God. He is the bridge that will takes us from where we are to where we can be in God. "I am the way, the truth, and the life- no one comes unto the Father but by Me".

Christ died for the sins of the world -so that problem was solved 2,000 years ago on Calvary's cross. Your sins, my sins, the sins of the entire world are all forgiven and the prodigal son or daughter is now free to go home where the Father eagerly awaits them.

Christmas is God's way of saying "All is forgiven -come home". Our response is to accept the invitation and to be restored into fellowship with God. "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling - come home.”

May 28, 2007

There is general confusion about sin in most people's minds. Under the old covenant, and there were several in the Old Testament, people had to do something to pay for their sins. Sometimes they had to make sacrifices and other times they had to do various deeds to cover their sins. Unfortunately, as history has shown, people took what was to be a spiritual activity and made a religion out of it. We still do it.

Many people, even some Christians, believe that all the good people go to Heaven and all the bad people go to Hell. Some people believe that it is alright to commit little sins, such as gossip, jealousy, envy, hatred, etc. but murder, child abuse, blasphemy, etc. will send you to Hell. Some people believe that a certain number or sins can be forgiven but if you go over that number you are headed for Hell. The trouble is that no one knows what that number is.

Some are confused that some sins are forgiven if you do more good deeds than bad deeds. Some believe that God has an old-time scale (balances) and He weighs your sins/good deeds and whichever way the scale goes is the way you go. People do not go to Heaven because they have been good (or done few bad things) and people don't go to Hell because they have been bad.

Since the crucifixion of Christ on the cross the sin problem has been solved once and for all time. Jesus Christ and His death on the cross brings redemption from all sin for all people. Romans 5:18 says "Christ's one act of righteousness makes all people right in God's sight and gives them life."

Sin is no longer the barrier between God and people. How much or how little sin people have committed is no longer the question. The question now is -"How do you plan to be right with God?" You can still try it your way, whatever that is, or you can try it God's way. The trouble is that any way devised by people, including religion, has never worked and it will never work. Human efforts can never make people right with God or bring forgiveness for sin. Religion will never do it.

In the Book of Romans, Paul makes it very clear that Christ has died to cover all sin, but the only people for whom it will be effective are those who through faith accept God's way. Those who come to God through Jesus Christ and faith in what He has done, God declares them righteous and forgiven.

Simply stated -sin is no longer the problem. For those who open their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, all sin is forgiven and God gives them His righteousness.

February 24, 2007

It is an interesting phenomenon to watch how few people really take advantage of the opportunities that God offers people. Too many people really are not serious about life. They seem to exist rather than live. They have not yet learned the basic truth -life will be what you make it.

In Luke 11 Jesus Christ talked about a person who had unexpected visitors in the night, and because they were unexpected, there was no food in the house to serve them. The host goes next door to borrow some food from his neighbor and his inquiry at first was ignored. Due to his persistence the neighbor finally came through.

What do you expect to get out of life? How hard are you working for it? Do you have to accept whatever life sends you? Can you order what you really want?

It is rather interesting that Christ includes His comments in an instruction on prayer and that was in response to a request by the disciples -"Lord teach us to pray".

If you are not serious about maximizing your life, you will miss out on the great blessings that God has for you. People who lack desire, visions, and high expectations are not going to live the true and fulfilling God-blessed life.

That is why Christ said "...Ask,...Seek,...Knock". Even when you pray, if you are not serious about your prayers, God can't be either. Prayers that mean nothing to you will mean the same to God.

D. L. Moody, the great Bible teacher and evangelist, used to say "Pray as though it were all up to God and work as though it were aD up to you and that will be the winning combination. "

Casual prayer is no prayer at all. Learn to pray in a persistent way. It is not that you have to get God's attention but rather that God needs your attention.

The Bible clearly teaches that the blessed life comes from your life being open to God. In the partnership that God offers to people you will discover the secret of successful Christian living. The key is your involvement. When life for you is a spectator sport, lacking your direction and input, then others will be receiving the blessings that you will never receive.

Get involved in life - your life - in a partnership with God and you will be amazed at why it took you so long to get there. The greatest life that anyone can live is lived everyday with God. Rather than being boring, it is exciting, challenging, and fulfilling.

ASK - SEEK - KNOCK Get serious about life -your life - and God will get serious with you.

February 18, 2007

Any parent wishes his/her children to be successful and live a fulfilled life. In Matthew 20 the mother of James and John came to Christ asking if her sons could sit with Christ when he took over. The idea was that Christ was the Messiah (and that is what the word means) and that soon He would exert His power, overthrow Roman rule, free Israel from slavery in their own land, and set up a new world order with Israel at the head of all earthly power. She saw in her sons abilities that would qualify them for such power. There is an old adage that everyone needs a jewish mother. The other disciples exploded when they heard about this request and Jesus had to calm them down by discussing what it means to be a leader. He promulgated a spiritual law -that the way to power a11d greatness was found in serving others. The people of Israel had seen enough of the phony politics and power portrayed in their religious leaders. Many years ago we had an interesting confrontation in Washington when a newspaper reporter had caught a senator in some illegal activity .At a hearing the senator turned to the reporter and said "Don't you realize that I am a senator of the United States?" To which the reporter replied "Don't you realize that I am a citizen of the United States?" Christ made it quite clear that the way to power was found in serving others. He pointed out that He Himself was there as a servant and not a master. True spirituality is not found by lording it over others and being self-important. Spirituality is found by how much you invest your time and efforts in helping others. Service to others is the key to success and not imaginary power and position. Too many church leaders are interested in being seen and 'being at the top' when all such thinking glorifies self rather than Christ. The greatest service is done by those who do things quietly and what they do is never seen by others. They are interested in the results and not the glory. Ideas of self-glorification undermine spirituality. Truly spiritual people will do many things of which others are totally unaware. They have understood the words of Jesus that when we do things in secret that God sees it and rewards us openly. Praise from people is illusory and is seen forgotten while spiritual blessings endure through time and eternity. In serving others you serve God. In serving yourself all such gain is soon diminished,

February 11, 2007

Are you guilty of whining and complaining to God about the way He has treated you unfairly? Many people do- even some Christians.

Your relationship with God is based on His love for you and not on how much or how little you have done for Him. Salvation and/or blessings are not earned- they are bestowed.

In Matthew 20 Christ told a parable about a landowner who hired people at different hours of the day, but then paid them all equally at the end of the day. Those who had worked all day complained that they should have been paid more than those who worked for only a few hours. Matthew 20: 15 has the landowner replying "Can't I do what I want with what is my own? Is your eye evil because I am good?"

Some people became Christians in their childhood while others met the Lord later in life. God loves all people equally. The Bible makes it clear that God does not discriminate. This parable adequately describes many people today.

Some people simply like to whine and complain. Not even God can please such people. Because they are so self-centered they believe that God should cater to their whims. It has been well said -"Any person wrapped up in himself (herself), makes a very small package".

Some people are constant criticizers. They may never do anything themselves but they think when others do something that they did it wrong. It is always easier to destroy than it is to create. Christians should be people of creative genius because the power of the Holy Spirit is available to them.

People often look down upon others thinking that they themselves are superior people. Christians should always treat others as their own equals even when there are points of difference. We are all equal -it is just that some are more equal than others. Instead of looking at our differences, we should look at our similarities.

The basic teaching of this parable is that salvation and blessings are things that God bestows freely and they are not earned. You do not pay for your salvation either before or after you receive it. All of God's blessings are freely given gifts, and they are based on God's love and not your efforts.

Freely accept the blessings of God and do not waste your time by making comparisons between your blessings and those received by others. The more you appreciate what God has done for you, the more your life will be open to even greater blessings. Each person’s blessings are individually designed by God for that person and you should never intrude between God and anybody else. Live your life to the maximum because that is the key to the greater things that God has for you.

February 4, 2007

The story that we are studying today is not technically a parable, yet in some ways it is.

Lazarus was a young man -probably in his late teens. He was the young brother of Mary and Martha and all three were close disciples of Christ. In the absence of Christ, Lazarus became ill and died. The sisters had tried to summons Christ so that He could heal him as He had healed many others. Several days later Christ arrived and received rebukes from the sisters for not getting there before Lazarus had died. He asked to be taken to the tomb and an interesting confrontation took place there. On the way we have the shortest verse in the Bible -John 11: 35 "Jesus wept". The people thought Christ was weeping over the loss of Lazarus but He was weeping over the lack of faith in His powers.

At the grave Christ called Lazarus back from the dead and he was restored to his family.

Have you ever thought that Christ still weeps over people -even over you?

Christ still weeps when He sees the way that many people waste their lives. After all -the greatest power in all the world is the power of faith when it is exercised in harmony with God. Look how the early church changed the world and they were no different than people today. They just believed more in the power of God and faith. Christ weeps when He sees how we are less than the people He has created us to be.

He weeps over our lost opportunities. He weeps over the way that some Christians so easily surrender to their problems. He weeps when we let our problems control us rather than our controlling our problems.

He weeps when we fail to take seriously the matter of life. He weeps when we refuse to live more closely in harmony with Him. Christ offers each person the pleasure of His presence and power everyday yet we often ignore and neglect that opportunity.

The greatest life that can ever be lived is lived in a daily relationship with Christ. Christ weeps when people are religious rather than enjoying His strength and power. The offers He has made to all the world is so great yet many, maybe even most, choose to live their own lives apart from His presence and power.

Christ offers to the world the opportunity of daily having a partnership with Him. In that partnership we have available to us divine wisdom, guidance, strength and victory. This is the greatest offer the world has ever seen. Accept it for yourself. It is only through experiencing it that you come to understand it. The Christian life is 'on the job training'. Don't waste the opportunity that Christ offers you.

January 21, 2007

One reason that our Lord taught in parables that alluded to nature was because of the people's closeness to nature. Many of His parables were lessons in farming. In Matthew 13, He talked about a farmer who sowed good seed but during the night an enemy sowed weed seeds throughout the field. As the crop grew some of the servants wanted to go among the growing good seeds to pull up the weeds, but the farmer told them not to do that because they would trample the good seeds. After the crops were ready for harvest then they gathered the weeds and harvested the crop.

No matter how strong your faith is you will always have a problem with the weeds. By that we refer to doubts, worries, fears and many other weeds that will grow in your life. The Bible says that we walk by faith and not by sight. Weed seeds may be sown by so- called friends who give bad advice and doubts. Many believers have had real answers to prayer but some 'friend' will come along to tell them that God doesn't work in that way. Other times the weed seeds will be sown by people whose lives are filled by fear or 'unfaith'. There have always been those scoffers who mock people of faith.

In Hebrews 11 the writer says that God uses your faith to bring into your life the things that you desire.

It is human to suffer doubts and fears because we want the blessings of God in our lives but we live in earthly bodies that are prone to change, not all of which is for our good. It is easy to have faith when things are harmonious and peaceful but no so easy when we experience setbacks.

The secret of spiritual success is to concentrate on the end results and not the intermediate circumstances. The farmer in the parable was looking to the harvest while his laborers were looking only at the circumstances.

The harvest view is that of who you are in God. You are a child of God and therefore part of His family. Your destiny is always the blessings of God -both here in this world and in eternity. Along the way you will have setbacks but they cannot defeat God's will or blessing upon you.

The life that is 'faithful' will also have doubts but the seeds of doubt will be crowded out by your faith. Look to Christ as your Savior and Lord and refuse to even hear the dogs that nip at your heels. Keeping your mind on Christ and who you are in Him will overcome all the doubts that will try to grow in your life.

January 14, 2007

In the Biblical period, and especially during the time of Christ, the greatest fellowship people could have would be in eating together. It got to the point where eating together became a spiritual experience. A tremendous amount of hypocrisy was also involved as a devout Jew was forbidden to eat with a gentile, and 'spiritual leaders' would not eat with the common people.

Because of the spiritual explanation of eating together many of our Lord's parables or miracles centered around food. This was also caused by the poverty of that day where many did not have enough to eat. Christ met peoples' needs whatever they might be. The ultimate relationship in Heaven was to have a banquet that was prepared for His family by God.

In Luke 14, Christ told a parable about feasting in eternity with God. The real brunt of this parable was directed at those religious leaders who felt that they were closer to God than anybody else and so they were excluded from the banquet while others, far less 'worthy' were admitted to the feast.

There are some great lessons from this parable. The first is the foolishness of thinking that we are closer to God than others simply because of some imagined superiority about ourselves. The second lesson has to do with the love of God that invited those to the feast who weren't fully prepared. There are no categories of superiority with God. All are 'sinners saved by grace' as opposed to some being 'holier' than others.

We have long since left any idea that eternity is one long food orgy. (Unfortunately there are those religious beliefs that teach that eternity is one long sex orgy.) There is another aspect of this parable that usually goes neglected and we must emphasize this. In this life as well as in eternity people of faith can 'feast' on the riches and the goodness of God. Too many Christians still believe that God denies to His children the things that they need in order 'to toughen them up'. God is neither a tightwad nor a 'scrooge' who delights in making it tough on his family.

A creative harmonious relationship with God prospers the believer in many ways. God is not in the business of bad advertising. He wants His family to succeed and enjoy life. The Bible says that "God has given us all things richly to enjoy". Feasting on the good things of life are God's plan for you. That is why the Christian life is the greatest life anyone can live. Live with God each day and enjoy life. Exclude God from your life and you miss out on time and eternity.

January 7, 2007

There is always a romance with the beginning of a new year. It is uncluttered, unspoiled and unexperienced. That is why we like it because we have a chance (in our minds) to start all over again and this I time 'we will get it right'.

2007 will be no different from 2006 unless we will it to be. Just I because the calendar has changed It doesn't mean you have changed. There must be a determination that it will be a good year for you, and it is up to you.

Your mind is the greatest tool God has given you to shape your destiny. Just as the sculptor from a rough stone creates a masterpiece, you can shape and reshape the year 2007 so that it will be the best year of your life. That is all within your power and you can make it work.

The secret of success in the Christian life is using correctly the power of faith. You use faith every day but sometimes faith can be negative. "I think I am getting a cold" and "This is going to be a bad day" are two among many possible examples of negative 'faith'. Because of all the Bible teaches about faith and its power, every person should be practicing positive faith. God is a good God and you are part of the family of God so turn on the positive power of faith.

Resolve that during the year 2007 you will be a more positive person than ever before. Rule out any idea that your personality and habits are etched in stone and you cannot change. God has already given you the ability of life-transforming power, but you have to claim it and utilize it for yourself. Please don't pray for God to change you because it is up to you and not God. He has created the possibility of change but like the Biblical promised land you must claim it on your own.

Greet 2007 as a golden opportunity. In this year you can live a more exciting life reveling in the power of God, looking forward to every day as a new opportunity to discover all that God has for you, or you can simply relax and take whatever it is that life hands you. The latter is a formula for disaster and disappointment while the positive approach will guarantee far better results.

Accept 2007 in your own mind as the challenge of discovering the greater joy of living every day with God. In your growing partnership with God you will discover how great are your powers in God. Take charge of each day and yourself because God has already given you that possibility. The greatest life that can ever be lived is here for you in 2007. Positive faith brings and creates the joy of living. It is yours for the taking. Do so in 2007.

December 31, 2006

Every person needs to advance far beyond any ideas that deny to him/her the freedom of choice in life. Life is not handed helplessly to you and you are far more than a mere pawn on the chessboard of life.

God has placed within each person the ability to decide for him/her self what quality of life they wish to pursue. A clear teaching of the scripture is "According to your faith, be it unto you.". Your destiny is not decided by cruel fate, tea leaves, tarot cards or anything else other than you.

One of the greatest problems that anyone ever has to face is to set God-honoring goals concerning life. God is not honored by small thinking and small ideas. Our God is a great God and we owe Him great ideas, dreams, goals and ambitions.

What are your plans for 2007? Please let it be more than to survive for another year. It does not honor you or God to settle for just getting by. It is not in your best interest to live life in mediocrity, being average, just getting by, or simply being like everybody else.

It is your challenging opportunity to have noble goals for the coming year. Look up the definition of 'noble' in the dictionary and see if that describes you. It should because you are a child of God and have the right to expect high things.

Some Christians may suffer from delusions of grandeur but far too many Christians suffer from low self-esteem. They do not realize the high calling to which God is calling them. You are not just anybody for you are someone special to God. H you are a child of God than you deserve the very best in life so why not claim it?

In 2007 set high expectations for yourself. Claim the promised land that God has for you. Step out on faith and live expectantly because that is what God wants you to do. Expectant faith creates the opportunities through which God can bless you. Look for greater happiness and success than you have ever experienced before.

Be determined that in 2007 you will make the world around you better just because YOU are in it. Make a contribution that will influence the lives of your family and others. If you settle for mediocrity that is what you will get but if you accept nothing less than the spectacular than you will move up to greater things.

Get away from any idea that you're your future is behind you and that you are just waiting for the Lord to call you home. As long as you are in this world God has a job for you -responsibilities that you can fulfill -lives that you can touch for Christ Accept nothing less than the NOBLE because God is calling you to NOBILITY IN CHRIST. In 2007 be all you can be in GOD. Surprise yourself and step out on faith. Be the person God has created you to be.

December 17, 2006

As your pastor you will notice that I never preach theology, doctrines or dogmas. I am more interested in helping you increasingly to be aware of who you can and should be in God. Empty theology does nothing for people. Practical and successful Christian living is what the Bible is all about.

The one exception I honor to the above is during the Christmas season because it is vitally essential that all of realize the meaning of "Emanuel- God with us". The clearest verse in the Bible on this theme is I Timothy 3:16 where Paul writes "God was manifested in the flesh". Next week we will talk about the 'who' of Christmas and this week it is the 'why' of Christmas.

God never violates the integrity of anyone's life. He created you and gave you freedom but what you do with it is entirely your choice. The history of the world is rather clear. People have the freedom to fellowship with God or they can choose to live without God. Over millennia the condition of people went from bad to horrible. They chose debauchery, religion, and other excesses, all of which led to terrible circumstances. Finally God said "I have to do something to help them" and He came down into our world to offer Himself as the sacrificial Iamb that would forever free people from sin.

The death of Christ on the cross is that redemptive act, but it had to start with God coming into our world in human form.

Christmas was the beginning of 'the drama of redemption' and it was necessitated by the sinfulness of people. Jesus Christ is the way back to the right relationship with God. Without that relationship there is no other way of salvation.

God came into our world to show us how much God loves people- all people. He loved us so much that He came to us as a personal gift. Don't try to find God through religion and don't think that being religious will solve people's problems. God came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ to redeem us from all that holds us back from God.

The death of Christ on the cross is God's sin offering for all the sins of the world. Since the cross sin is no longer the problem because God has solved that problem. Now the problem is getting people to accept God's love rather than to continue in their self-destructive ways. If only the entire world could understand what God did in Christ, and how that the answer to all the world's longing is here for the taking, everybody would gladly accept God's offer and be a Christian.

October 29, 2006

We are studying the parables of Christ. Remember that the old understanding of a parable is 'an earthly story with a heavenly meaning'.

Too many Christians are inseparably tied to the past. All of us should have a deep appreciation, even reverence, for history because where we are is a direct by-product of where we have been. However, as times change and people change we learn from the past but history should never keep us entombed in the past

In one of His parables Christ taught that new wine should be put in new wineskins, not old wineskins, because as the new wine began developing the old wineskins could not hold it

Christ was saying that all the blessings of God, the new blessings that come each day, requires us to be new people. The blessings that God has for you today are greater than anything that you have experienced in the past Each blessing, as it is received in your life, helps you to grow and makes you a stronger and more blessed person. Your life needs to expand each day to receive the new things that God has for you.

If you try to fit the new blessings into your past life they will not fit Everyday you should become a newer and wiser person for whom God has greater blessings God is constantly moving on to newer and greater things and the attempt to fit them into the old lifestyles just will not work.

The things that met the needs of your parents and grandparents are no longer adequate to meet your needs. Times have changed -people have changed - God has newer blessings for you than anything that blessed Christians of 75 or 100 years ago. No one wants to go back to the days before central heating, air conditioning, modern transportation or all the medical advances that have blessed us. God has given our world great advances and we are blessed by them. What met the needs of Christians of the past are not longer adequate to meet the needs of Christians today and thanks to God they don't have to.

When God moves on, it behooves us to move on with Him. There are new approaches to reaching people today. The ministry of our Lord proves that The religious leaders of His day were so tied to the past that they could not see God doing something new. What had blessed the people of Israel for 1,000 years was "good enough for them".

The Christian church needs to remember that no matter how great the past God has even greater blessings today. The new wine that God has for us today can not be contained in the old wineskins of the past

Don't deny yourself the new blessings that God has for you by being blinded, or confined, by history. God has greater blessings for you than you have yet received. New wine needs new wineskins.

September 24, 2006

In John 2 is the story of Jesus cleansing the temple of the commercial interests really speaks to everyone of us. The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth and asks them "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

Your body, the temporary housing of your spirit, is also a holy place. It is the temple of God, and like the temple in Jerusalem in Jesus' time, it is so easy to allow it to be cluttered by unworthy things -ideas, thoughts, worry, sin, and other personal practices or things.

Have you ever been away from home for an extended time and when you get back you are appalled by the dust and other things that have collected during your absence. What do you do? You have a good house cleaning.

In your temple it is so easy to become cluttered by worry, fear, anxiety, sickness, and a host of other undesirable things. Yet it is your house, and only you can cleanse it Your life is inviolate and not even God can cleanse it for you.

Remember the definition of sin -anything that keeps you from being the person that God created you to be. God never created you for worry, fear, weakness, or anything else that prevents the will of God for you from being fulfilled in you.

Please do not think you have to be immoral to sin. You can be a very moral person and still not be the person God created you to be. When you allow negativity, fear, worry, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, or other self debilitators to dominate you then your temple needs a good cleansing.

Obviously, you can talk to God about it, but it is up to you to cast out that demon that indwells you. Your really do not have to worry as much as you do. In fact, you don't have to worry at all. When negative things occupy you then switch over to positive things that )'OU will enjoy much more. Think about how many blessings you have had in life. Think about the fact that God is your constant companion in life. Think about what you can do to make life better for yourself as well as others. Actually when your mind is filled with negativity you are pre-occupied with yourself. You can be released from that by thinking of others -how you can help them, how you can lift their load.

This cleansing of your temple may have to be repeated over and over. Just because you cleansed your temple last month doesn't mean that other demons haven't moved in. Each day gives you the opportunity to be God's person or to settle for less. Cleanse your temple often, whenever needed, by asserting your authority over your life and your mind.

September 10, 2006

Every Christian has the right to live the victorious life - that is promised in the Scriptures.

Yet the quality of life that you live is determined by you and not by God.

Many of us grew up with the mistaken idea that what we had in life, or did not have, was all determined by God. People believed that God determined everything and that the role of the Christian was simply to accept whatever God sent. This philosophy, whether we know it or not, blamed everything on God. It led to a great deal of jealousy and resentment on the part of those who supposedly were not chosen to be blessed by God.

This may come as a shock to some people but God loves everybody equally. He never prefers anyone over anyone else. What you have or lack in life is up to you and not up to God. God makes the blessings available to all but not all know how to receive them

The key to the blessed and victorious life is determined by your attitude. A positive attitude creates the opportunity through which God can bless you while a negative attitude slams the door in God's face so that nothing good can come to you.

People who constantly gripe and complain, who are negative in their actions and thoughts, who go around criticizing others, can never be blessed by God and their attitude prevents blessings from flowing to them.

The Christian life should always be the victorious life even when things are going badly because the Christian has his/her priorities in order. He/she knows that out of all the chaos God will still turn around all things for their blessing. The true Christian, living in a daily positive faith with God, knows the difference between a temporary set-back and a ruinous situation.

Back of any storm that may touch your life is a loving Heavenly Father who works with you to bring you to the victory.

Do you run your life or do you let the circumstances run you? You are to be in charge of your life and live it in a way that will honor and glorify God. God is not interested in your failure and He is opening before you the door of success. When you surrender to the evil around you, whether that evil is physical or spiritual, you are blocking the corrective and blessing power of God.

Faith is the greatest force in all the world. When your faith is harmonized with the righteousness of God a combination is formed that can never be truly defeated. You and God working together will always have the ultimate victory. With God, you can live in victory and not defeat.

September 3, 2006

It is utterly amazing how many people think that God denies them things and takes things from them, as though God is a 'Scrooge' or a tightwad. If only people would realize how much God wants to bless them and fulfill them. Too many people don't realize how involved God already is in their lives. He has placed in each life unbelievable potential and abilities. He already is your creator and He knows you better than you know yourself.

In John 2 we have the marvelous story where Jesus turned water into wine after the host had run out of wine for a wedding reception. This would be a most embarrassing situation. Jesus Christ does not go around embarrassing people. If anything He would keep from embarrassing people. If only more of His followers would follow that practice the Christian Church would reach more people.

There are many examples of faith in this story. The servants were told to do whatever Jesus ordered. At His direction they filled water pots with water and then served them to the guests. The host was relieved but he got blame from the master of ceremonies because he had used the cheap stuff first and saved the best until last (Usually it was done the other way around.) Mary knew that her son would not fail them. The disciples learned a valuable lesson about Christ's power. The gossip that must have gone through that town should have been interesting.

Put very plainly, Jesus Christ is in the needs-meeting business. No one should be reluctant to talk with Christ about their needs. Let's face reality - every person has many needs everyday and Jesus Christ is there to meet those needs.

Perhaps you don't think that Christ knows your needs but He does. He is just waiting for you to ask Him for His assistance. He is more anxious to help you than you are anxious to be helped. Get off the humility kick that you are not good enough or that you aren't important enough to receive divine help. Remember that in the Sermon on the Mount Christ said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God seeing it and that people are worth more than many sparrows. Remember this contrast -people are in the religion business but God is in the people business.

Have you talked lately with God about your needs? He already knows them but He is waiting for you to come to Him. When you open the door for divine help it will be there. Jesus Christ still meets people's needs and He will meet your needs if you give Him the opportunity. This week take time to talk with Him in private. You will be amazed at the results.

August 27, 2006

One of the most interesting stories in the entire Bible is when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. You can read the entire story in John II.

Lazarus was the young brother of Mary and Martha - all three were followers of Christ, and properly called disciples. Lazarus was just a young man, probably 16-18, although that is only a guess. We know that his sisters doted on him as older sisters would. Because their parents are not mentioned in the Scriptures it is safe to assume that they had died, which would further emphasize how Mary and Martha would care for him. Lazarus became ill and his sisters sent for Christ to come. After all, they had seen Christ heal many people. Christ deliberately delayed His arrival until after Lazarus's death.

After His arrival Christ was berated by Mary and Martha for not getting there before Lazarus died. He asked to be taken to the tomb. Once there Christ asked that the tomb be opened, to which the sisters had objections because he had been dead four days. Then Christ in a loud voice said "Lazarus come out here". To everyone's amazement Lazarus got up and Christ ordered the people to unwrap the burial cloths and set him free.

Many people are imprisoned by their circumstances. In one sense they have died to the potential that God has created for and in them. It becomes like a tomb for them. Is a tomb holding you? It can be worry, fear, anxiety, hypochondria, sin, low self-esteem, jealousy, resentment, or any of a thousand other ills. You do not have to be there. Jesus Christ stands before you and basically says "You don't have to stay in there - come on out."

Lazarus could have said (as many people do) "No thanks, I like it here." Jesus Christ is truly the liberator. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. " What is your response to the call of Jesus Christ. He is calling you to greater things. God has something better for you than you have yet received

He is calling you to be more fully His disciple. He is calling you to even greater things. Just being a Christian isn't enough when God has greater things for you in His fellowship. He wants to be your partner in all that you do every day. He wants to inspire and fulfill you. He is looking for people who will make a difference. You have that opportunity.

The response is yours. You can heed the call of Christ and go on to greater things or you can maintain your status quo and nothing will change. A Christian is a person who hears Christ's call and responds. The tomb offers security but it can't compare with God's blessing.

August 13, 2006

As Christians live their lives, sooner or later, they will experience times when they are down. Sometimes those downers will result in depression. Often the depression can be very controlling, even debilitating.

During these times yon have to face the question "Do my circumstances control me or do I control them?" The situation is very simple. Each person needs to be in control of his/her circumstances whether the circumstances are good or bad. Then you ask "If I can control bad circumstances they would not be bad." False. Perhaps your circumstances may require some medical correction, even surgery. Yet you control them because you make the decision to have the surgery. <P>Too many people allow their circumstances to drag them down. In the training for Water Safety Instructor one of the emphases when rescuing a drowning person is not to allow them to drown you with them. In life the same rule applies. Don't let your circumstances drag you down but rather rise above your circumstances to become the victor and not the victim.

When you are down be sure you are looking up. In the Book Of Hebrews the author was recounting how that many Christians looked around them to see terrible things. (At that time many Christians were being tortured or put to death for being Christian in a very un-Christian world.) Yet he encouraged them not to look to the circumstances but to look beyond them to see Jesus Christ, and then to take comfort in the way that Christ faced His horrible death because of the greater life that was His in Heaven. Please bear in mind that God knows exactly every problem you face. Nothing is hidden from God's eye. Too often when people offer 'pity prayers' it sounds like they are telling God something He does not know. You can either look at your problems or you can look at God. When you look at your problems you actually make them worse. When you look beyond your problems to see God, your problems will diminish, even disappear.

Your attention is like a fertilizer -whatever you put it on will grow. You actually help your problems to grow when you concentrate on them. When you look beyond your problems to see God, your relationship with God will grow.

When things are going bad, when you are truly down, then it is time to start looking up. When you focus on God, you open your life to His solution to your problem. Don't let your circumstances control you. Exercise your God-given rights and powers and control not only yourself, but also your circumstances. When you are down, start looking up. Help is already on the way.

August 6, 2006

As we celebrate communion the first Sunday of each month, we are reminded once again of the basis of God's salvation.

Too many Christians are confused about what it takes to be a Christian. Many people think that salvation is something that they earn by being good and/or living the Christian life. Some believe that salvation is determined by what church you attend and how often you attend there. Some believe that salvation is something you receive because of the family in which you were born, unless you really foul up and lose it. Others believe that they have received salvation from God but they have the responsibility of avoiding any action that would cause them to lose their salvation.

You might think that this is not a good analogy but when Noah and his family were in the ark the Bible says that "God nailed the door shut". He did not tell them to hang on to ropes over the side and if they held on long enough they would survive the flood.

Romans 5 makes it quite clear that salvation is something totally arranged by God through Jesus Christ and nothing we can do can make it better. All that was necessary for salvation was accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross and our input is to accept it for ourselves. That and nothing more is our role in being Christians.

What is a Christian? A Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God. Being religious is not good enough -in fact it might block you from being a Christian. Our world is full of religious people who are all killing one another, even in their own religion.

In Communion we are once again aligning ourselves with God's plan of salvation. We are acknowledging that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer- our Lord and Savior. We are thanking God for ms perfected plan of salvation and rededicating ourselves to Him.

In the beautiful hymn "Rock Of Ages" we have these words: "Could my tears forever flow, Could my zeal no languor know, These for sin could not atone -Thou must save and Thou alone. In my hands no price I bring, Simply to the Cross I cling."

On the Cross of Calvary Jesus Christ paid the price for all sin and unbelief. The person who opens his/her life to Christ is the recipient of God's salvation. You live the Christian life, not to earn your salvation, but to thank God for all He has done for you. In Communion, we commune with God through Jesus Christ and we open our lives once again to receive Him and to thank Him.

July 23, 2006

Time after time Jesus Christ rebuked ffis disciples and others for their lack of faith. That's another problem with religion. Rather than instilling faith in people it teaches blind allegiance to doctrines and dogmas. The ministry of Christ was designed to get people to see the opportunities that were offered to them by God and spirituality.

True Christianity is working in a daily relationship with God. It is understanding how much God loves all people and offers to everyone the greatest possible life -the life lived in fellowship with Him.

Unfortunately too often Christianity is interpreted, not as an experience, but as a theology. The message of Christ is about living daily in The Promised land. It is living now in a personal relationship with God who energizes people rather than withholds from people.

Your faith is the key to the fulfilled life. It is easy to know that faith works. How often have you said to yourself "1 feel like I'm getting a cold?" What happens - you get the cold. When you concentrate of what is negative, you are obviating your relationship with God. God is positive and dynamic, and the closer you are to God you will be positive and dynamic also. Don't go through life like you've been sucking on lemons as many people do. In some people's lives doom and gloom are more prevalent than hope and peace.

The writer of The Book Of Hebrews defines faith as "the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen." When you set high goals, standards, and expectations you are creating the framework upon which God will answer your prayers. Most people never expect God to do anything special for them and when they have that attitude there is nothing that God can do for them. In Hebrews 11 it refers to God as "the rewarder". God is not the punisher - He is the Rewarder.

Faith works if you work it. It takes your involvement and high goals. Why be just like everybody else when God has created you for better things? The herd instinct that possesses too many Christians is what holds back many from receiving greater blessings.

This week keep this thought in mind -"God has something better for you than you have yet received!" Look for that which is positive, creative and fulfilling because that is what God wills for you. Being God-like is not being religious. It is being faith-full.

July 2, 2006

O, say, can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets read glare, the bombs bursting in air Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the wars desolation! Blest with vict'ry and peace may the Heaven rescued land Praise the power that has made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must when our cause it is just, And this be our motto "In God is our trust". And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the. free and the home of the brave.

We are not among those benighted persons who believe that you Cannot serve both God and country. The closer you are to God the more you will protect and serve your country.

From its founding days this nation was built on an everlasting belief that God had His hand in forming this nation to be a light to the entire world that life is lived best when it is lived with God. There are those voices that would make this nation strictly secular with no need for a spiritual basis. This country has been the strongest when it was/is close to its spiritual roots. It is the weakest and most corrupt when it forgets its spiritual roots. Look at the developments since World War II.

From its founding days - George Washington praying at Valley Forge - various founding fathers like Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death") made their appeal to Almighty God as the basis for all freedom. They further emphasized that spirituality was the guiding light for America.

We have forgotten our roots. Our schools no longer teach about those who formed this nation. They deny the spiritual origins of this land. We stand at a crossroad. Either we reaffirm our spiritual heritage or we drift into further moral decline and inevitable destruction.

Spiritual people must stand up for what is right. We must elect people with spiritual orientations. The voices in Congress must trust in divine providence to lead us into our future. We must reaffirm our motto "In God is our trust". This November we must stake our claim for God or by default we acquiesce to godlessness. There is no middle ground.

June 25, 2006

How do you judge or gauge your own spiritual growth. Many people make their decision on the basis of the good that they do and the bad that they avoid. Some base it on how often they are in church, how much they give to the church, or how much they pray, etc.

All of the above are misleading and really are self-centered. How about trying something new that maybe you have never considered before.

Try thinking with God. That is not as presumptuous as you might believe. Think of God's characteristics. He is never morose, negative, or fearful. Among many other things, God is positive and creative energy. He thinks BIG. His ideas are wholesome and creative.

Too many Christians practice small ideas and settle for the commonplace in life. They resign themselves to the status quo, expecting nothing new or different in life. This is one of the delusions that Satan uses on Christians -"You are no good", "You are a nobody", "God doesn't even know that you are around". So we have no great expectations, and nothing spectacular happens. It is not because God has cut us off but because we disqualify ourselves.

God is a big God and has big ideas. Judge your spiritual growth by the size of your ideas. Christians should be like God and think big. Believe it or not -it is just as easy to have big ideas as it is to have small ideas. It takes no more labor to have big ideas than to have little ideas, and people with big ideas do so much more.

You have far more potential than you have ever imagined. God has put tremendous potential within you through the act of creating you. You are an unexplored gold mine of opportunity waiting to be developed. God put it there but He cannot develop it for you. That is your responsibility.

There are many things that you would like to do in life but timidity holds you back. Release yourself from that prison and try to be the person that God created you to be. Come out of your shell in a partnership with God. Start thinking of new things that you can do for and with God. Think of the change that you can make in your church, your community, or your home. Think creatively and allow the ideas of God to fill your mind.

Don't think that your productive days are behind you. God has greater blessings for you than you have yet received. In a partnership with God you can discover these greater things. Let His power be at work within you.

This week pray about this. Ask God to lead you into these greater things. When He opens the doors, and He will, be willing to step in. Go in faith with God and discover His great power.

June 18, 2006

Some of the great words of the Old Testament are found in our Scripture lesson today from Isaiah 40. It challenges the believer to "mount up with wings like eagles".

Where are you in your own spiritual growth? Are you often feeling run down and run over? Do little things depress you? H any or all of the above are true then you need to understand what Isaiah promises to you.

It is very clear that they who "wait upon the Lord" are the people who rise above disappointment and failure to be victorious in all of life.

If that was true before the time of Christ, how much truer should it be today because of the victory that is already in the possession of believers through the cross of Christ and His resurrection. Read Paul's letters to the early Christians where he proclaims that all Christians are already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

There is no room for depression or defeat when you realize who you are in Jesus Christ. Rather than being under the circumstances you are over the circumstances. When the storms of life roll in you have the ability to fly over them through Jesus Christ.

John writes to his church and proclaims "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". H you want to feel discouraged or depressed it will happen, but why do that when all the promises of the Scriptures show us that God has made us victors and not victims. When you are a son/daughter of God then you are a very special person. You have the authority to rise above all problems in and through the power of God.

Christians are not nobodies -they are somebody special in God.

What is the secret -"They who wait upon the lord ". How close are you to God in your own mind? When you let problems pre- occupy you then there is no room for God. Each day you should think about your great God as being with you in all that you do. Because God is with you each day, you have extra-ordinary powers. Dwelling in God's presence will lift you to a higher level- a level where you can literally soar with the eagles. I have often stood on high mountains in the Rockies and watched eagles soaring below me. I was physically higher than they were. Spiritually every believer has that same opportunity in and through the power of God within you. When problems seem formidable in your life let the power of God in your mind lift you to a higher level and let yourself fly with the eagles.

June 11, 2006

It may seem strange to talk about negative faith but many Christians practice it every day. Yet, positive faith accomplishes so much it is a wonder why anybody would fail to use it.

How many Christians that you know talk more about what they don't like than what they do like. Some Christians never seem to have creative idea but they like to tell other people what is wrong with the ideas. Some Christians like to constantly grumble and complain. They seem to think that nothing is any good.

In the Book of Acts the early Christians were positive, vibrant and enthusiastic. The great contrast of that day was the power of the ear Christians as opposed to the sterile, empty, hypocritical 'preachments' I the religious leaders. People grow tired of religion that can not deliver that accomplishes nothing good or transformative for anyone.

The early Christians were overflowing with the joy of the Lord. They believed and even practiced miracles. For the first time the people I Jerusalem saw a positive faith that not only gave people something to live for but which also gave them the power to live a new, different all victorious life.

Negativity seems to be the mantra of today. Notice how much more bad news you see on television than good news. Horror stories grip more people because they are inclined toward the bad rather than the good.

What Christianity needs today is people who live in the powerful, vibrant, joy of Jesus Christ. People whose lives are overflowing with the positive faith that stirred the early Christians.

Negativity destroys and impedes progress and growth. Being positive creates the framework upon which God can send blessings to H family. Negative people are often sick people in that their minds influence their bodies. Over the years of my ministry I have seen hundreds 4 churches. The churches that are dominated by negative people are churches that cannot grow, while the churches that are filled with positive, people are growing and flourishing.

In your own life, positive faith will fill you with joy an expectations, while negativity perpetuates the status quo. God is a positive and vibrant source of energy who truly wants to bless people but negativity is slamming the door in God’s face.

Start practicing positive faith each day and see the differences that God has for you/. Negative faith destroys but positive faith brings miracles. Positive faith is God's way. Get in tune with God in your life if you want to see greater blessings coming to you.

May 28, 2006

Whether you know it or not you are engaged in spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is the eternal conflict between good and evil and yes, you are involved.

Here is something to think about because it involves you and it shows the aforementioned conflict. Have you really ever kept any new year's resolution? How about that weight you have been taking off for years? Why is it easier to put on weight than to take it off? The point is very simple. Evil is everywhere and we are all involved in it.

The global situation is very obviously evil. There are sick minds in our world. The Bible has emphasized the power of evil since the Garden of Eden. Jesus Christ came into our world once and for all to show that evil can be defeated by the power of God. The cross and the empty tomb reveal that.

The early church lived in a world that may have been even more evil than our world. We would hope that the Gospel of Christ has made some impact over the past 2000 years.

In Ephesians 6 Paul talked about the source of evil in our world. It is not just evil people doing evil things. It is spiritual evil (an interesting term) that rules and motivates all physical evil

Paul gives us the secret of success in this conflict. You don't have to do it on your own because that won't work. You must do it in the power of God and wearing spiritual protection. He compares a Christian to a soldier in conflict and lists the armor that a soldier of his day wore. No soldier would go into combat without his armor and we as Christians need the armor God has already provided us to win the victory over evil

Have you ever realized and put on all the armor God has for you? Read Ephesians 6 to discover your resources. You don't have to live the Christian life on your own because God has already given you the victory. The power of God energizes and strengthens you. Then you can joyfully face and overcome all the problems that life throws at you.(You can even lose weight or keep those resolutions.) You can be the victorious and happy person that God has destined you to be.

Paul says -"Once you have your armor on -take a stand" Don't run from the enemy and never surrender to your problems. Evil is all around you but it can not defeat you. I John 4:4 "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world".

The spiritual evil that is in our world is truly powerful, but the power of God is even greater. We need to know about it, realize the nature of the conflict, and use all the power of God to overcome all the evil we face. Christians stand for what is right and with God.

May 21, 2006

There is still great misunderstanding in the Christian faith as to the basis of individual salvation.

Some people believe in corporate salvation -that is, that salvation is based upon belonging to the right church. Like it or not the Bible does not teach corporate salvation.

The Bible teaches individual salvation - that is, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ is what brings salvation.

There are those people (both in the church and outside the church) who believe that all the good people go to Heaven and an the bad people go to Hell They believe in salvation by works or deeds. The Bible makes it very clear that salvation is not based on what a person does or does not do but rather on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8,9 says clearly "By grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST".

A Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God. That means that person has turned away from his/her own plan of salvation and accepted God's plan - the death of Jesus Christ On the cross.

In the great hymn -"Rock of Ages" - the writer says: "Could my tears forever flow - Could my zeal no languor know - these for sin could not atone, Thou must save and Thou alone -In my hand no price I bring - Simply to Thy cross I cling."

Isn’t it great to realize that God has done for us what no one could ever do for himself/herself - the forgiveness of sin. Since the time of the Cross of Christ, sin is no longer the problem because Jesus Christ died on the Cross to forgive the sins of the entire world. John 3:17 says it all.

You no longer have to work for your salvation because God gives it freely to the person who accepts God's way. You don't pay for salvation before you receive it or after you receive it. You simply open your life to Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.

Too many Christians still don't think they are good enough for salvation or they believe they have sinned too much to receive salvation. Just look up and see God offering you His open arms and know that God receives you through what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross. All Sin is forgiven and the way to God is through understanding that and opening your life to accept all the blessings that God has for you in and through Jesus Christ.

Your soul hope for salvation is not anything you can do but rather what Jesus Christ has accomplished On your behalf. Thank God for that.

May 7, 2006

Communing with Jesus Christ is the greatest blessing anyone can have. It is the secret of the fulfilled and happy life. It is also offered to everyone, but not everyone is open to accept it.

Please remember who Jesus Christ was and is.

The physical Jesus Christ was born a little over 2000 years ago. About the age 30, He began His ministry which only lasted for three years. Once again the conflict between religion and spirituality rears its ugly head. Christ taught a spiritual relationship with God but it varied so much from the teachings of the religious leaders that He was put to death by the religious leaders. They thought that they had rid themselves of a great threat, but Christ, through the power of God, rose on what we call Easter Sunday. He ministered to the disciples for approximately forty days and then commissioned them to take the Gospel to the entire world. Then he left them to return to Heaven, from which He had previously come.

Today He still ministers to people through a spiritual presence. He appeared to many in the early church on various occasions and this practice still occurs. Remember the great line from the song "He lives" - "You asks me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart." Many years ago a great church leader wrote a little tract called "Practicing The Presence Of Christ". This is the secret of successful living. If you only think of the presence of Christ when you are in church or in times of great need, you fail to understand the daily presence of Christ in your life.

Every day Jesus Christ is available to you. He is there to bless and fulfill you. He is there in both good and bad times. This is because of how much He loves you and desires to be with you. You don't have to be perfect or even good to experience Christ. Just be aware that as your Lord and Savior He never leaves you. You may shut Him out through many techniques but He never leaves.

Each day be aware of His presence. Feel Him beside you. Know that He is there as a friend and not as a spy. He wants to fill you with victory.

Learn to talk with Him. That is what prayer is. You are "picking up" the phone and having a conversation with your best friend. We do that so easily on a human level and it is just as easy to do it on a divine level. Ask Him for wisdom as you make decisions, guidance as you are looking for the right approach, strength to be the person He has created you to be.

Remember how close Christ is to you. Practice His presence. That is the secret of the fulfilled, happy Christian life.

April 23, 2006

Since you have opened your life to be more complete in God, how have you grown?

This is a vital question because too many people think that the Christian life is the difference between Heaven and Hell. Jesus Christ is far more than just a fire escape from Hell He is the key to a happy and fulfilling life lived in the power of God.

The early Christians also had this problem. The Apostle Paul was constantly berating the churches because they had not grown much as Christians. He referred to them as 'babies in Christ'. Yes, they had been born again - born into the family of God -but they had let it end there and had not developed a maturity or even a plan to mature.

A close study of the Bible reveals that the people of the first century had basically the same problems as we have today. The were torn by racism, greed, jealousy, gossip, strife, theological divisions, elitism and many other problems. Yet look how God used them to change the world. That should convince you that God can use YOU to have a positive impact on our world. You don't have to be perfect to serve God -you just have to be serious about it.

Many times in your life you have been serious about something. You wanted to master a new skill, a sport, or to finish a project. To reach your goal took dedication on your part. You can have the same determination to advance in your spiritual life as well Neglect is not the key to spiritual success.

In the Old Testament God said to His people "You shall seek me and find me when you shall do it with all your heart". The greatest thrill in all the world is in understanding the partnership that God offers to people. God honors YOU by offering you His wisdom, power, guidance and energy. It is there for your acceptance.

Don't settle for being an immature Christian when God offers you the opportunity to excel in Christ. Mature Christians are people who are serious about their relationship with God and want each day to be another opportunity to grow closer to Him.

How do you do it? A good question and a simple answer. 1. Each day take time to think about God. 2. Talk to Him, and particularly when you have to make a tough decision or need guidance. 3. Thank Him for His presence in your life. 4. Take time each day for reading the Bible and/or other spiritual literature like 'The Upper Room'. 5. Try to help others find the same hope in God that you have found. Don't let your spiritual life be a secret Share it in love.

Easter, April 16, 2006

Spring is such a great time of the year. After a winter of sleep nature is bursting forth with new life and new colors. The freshness of the air and the warmth of each day are both reminders of how blessed life can truly be.

What is your life like? Is it vibrant, happy and fulfilled or does it seem like something is missing?

The greatest life that can be lived is live with God as your partner each day. It is not a matter of being religious because that is a dead-end street. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ God is inviting you to the new life that is found in a spiritual relationship with Him.

Christ has broken the bars of death so that you too can come alive to the greatest life anyone can live. The Christian life is both exciting and fulfilling. Jesus Christ is able to fill that void or emptiness that you feel within yourself.

Remember when you worked jig-saw puzzles and you were down to the last few pieces. You were certain that that piece would fit into that hole. You would be so convinced that you took your fist and tried to hammer it in. Then you gave up and picked up another piece and it fell right in.

When God created you He left a craving void within you - a void that only God Himself can fill. People try to fill that void with adventure, fame, excitement, things but to no avail. The only thing that can really satisfy us completely is a personal relationship with God. Nothing else can truly satisfy people.

God came in the person Jesus Christ to show you how much He loves you. He willingly gave His life to bring you into a new fellowship with Himself. He died on the cross and rose again to show all time and eternity that nothing can ever defeat God. Not even death can hold back the power of God.

Just as spring brings new life to nature, God brings new life to people. There is a 'you' inside of you that is waiting to spring forth into new life.

During this wonderful time of the year, take time to thank your Creator for all that He has done for you and renew yourself into a greater partnership with God. Ask Him to fill and fulfill you as never before. The 'you' inside of you yearns to be free and fulfilled. Let the power that brought Christ out of the tomb liberate you into all that freedom that God has for you.

Take a deep breath of God's presence and allow all that God is to make you all that you can be in Him. Your relationship with God is the secret of success, happiness, and fulfillment.

Spring into life with Jesus Christ.

April 2, 2006

As we approach the Easter season we have to remember the gracious love of God given to us in Jesus Christ. The death on the cross is an unbelievably cruel death. The victim dies from pain as well as dehydration. It may be the cruelest form of death that ever was devised by the sick mind of sick people.

The message was very clear to all- this will happen to you if you defy Rome and its rule over you.

Jesus Christ willingly headed for Jerusalem even though He knew that his death lay ahead. It was willingly that He died on the cross for the sole purpose of solving the sin problem once and for all. This was the sole purpose of His birth -to redeem the world.

To the religious leaders as well as the Romans, the death of Christ was the simple solution to their problems. Here is a man who threatens 'our system' so let's get rid of him.

It is a glory to behold how God turns the foolishness of people into things that bring many blessings to others.

People just genuinely foul up and make mistakes. Yet God in His patience and love turns those things around so that good comes out of evil.

Let's interpret "Jerusalem" as not being a place but the ultimate acceptance of your relationship with God. Where do you meet God? Some would like to think that they meet God in church. For others meeting God may be in nature -looking at a beautiful sunrise or sunset -beholding the majesty of lofty mountain peaks. The important thing is not where you meet God but rather that you do meet Him. That you experience Him in your own life and that it is something that totally changes you.

More than anything else -God is not met through or in religion. God must be met in the privacy of your own life and in the realization of how much He loves you and your openness to receive that love.

Your personal relationship with God is the true Jerusalem. It is the beginning of the greatest life that anyone can ever live. People try to find satisfaction in things but what they are looking for is found only in God. That God came into our world in human form to lift us into divine status -being part of the family of God.

Think of Jesus Christ as the bridge that takes us from where we are in ourselves to being accepted in God. Christ referred to Himself as being "the way" and He is for He is the one that brings us back to our relationship with God. People who are truly looking for life can find it only in God. All other searches are futile. This Easter season draw closer to God than ever before.

March 26, 2006

Despite the cooler temperatures, the calendar says it is spring. Already flowers are breaking through the ground, after a winter of steep, and the trees are breaking out with the glorious ~olors of spring. Such things are happening because of the potential that is within them.

ARE YOU READY TO ALLOW THE POTENTIAL THAT GOD HAS PLACED WITHIN YOU TO BREAK OUT?

God has put tremendous potentials within you. You have far more potential within you that you have ever realized. There is within you the desire to be more than you have ever been, the desire to ~'ork with your Creator, the desire to have more of an impact on our world, and the desire to rise to greater heights than ever before. BY GOD, YOU CAN DO IT. Many people, because of frustrations. disappointment, and low self esteem, when they feel these magnetic draws, break up. They don't break out.

Think of the impact of the Easter message. The Savior had died and His disciples were torn by fear and anger. What they had hoped for will now never be possible. All their dreams and plans were shattered. Then the Risen Christ appeared to them and now their plans paled in comparison to the greater plans that God had for them.

There is a 'you' inside of you that needs to break out. For too long most people keep that 'you' as a prisoner because they neither know it or understand it Yet your Creator has created you for greater things than anything you have yet experienced.

Easter is God's way of saying that it is time to leave the tomb and break out into the world that God has destined you for. Why live a dismal life when you can live in a Garden of Eden with God.

The vast majority of people live unfulfilled lives. They exist but they do not live the abundant life that Christ promised to His disciples. Be honest with yourself and break out into that greater life that is yours as part of God's divine creation. Never settle for mediocrity or even being average when God's excellence is inviting you to a greater and higher life.

How do you do it? Simply by coming to terms with yourself and knowing that it is time to break out into the new spring that God has for you. Ask Him for guidance and wisdom. Ask him to assist you in freeing yourself from the tomb that holds you back and break out into the greater life that He has for you. If your life is not complete and full then ask God to guide you into a greater quality of life. You don't have to pack up and leave here to go anywhere else. This is a spiritual trip and not a geographical one.

Don't allow life to make you break up. Instead break out and enter that partnership of living everyday witb God.

March 19, 2006

Last week I asked you the sobering question "What do others see when they see you?" This is a theme that all Christians should be aware of every day, for others should see Christ through you Every life that you touch can be better off for your involvement with them.

Why are many Christians easily defeated, dejected, and unhappy? There is no reason for us to be this way when we have already been guaranteed the victory through Jesus Christ.

You have the privilege as well as the obligation of showing before the world a radiant and positive life. When the world sees that in others they want to know the secret of success. That is the glory that is ours through Jesus Christ.

Most of us spend a great deal of time making the external look good and this is proper and to be commended. We pick out clothing that makes us look good. We want our hair styles to be attractive- both men and women. We want the world to see us at our best and that is the way it ought to be. But too often we forget one vital ingredient. Have we forgotten to put on our happy, smiling, positive and radiant faces?

BEAUTY IS SEEN EXTERNALLY BUT IT STARTS AND COMES FROM THE INNER SELF.

Often when people feel good and are happy, they forget to tell their faces.

Christians should be positive, radiant, and hopeful. After all - everything that Jesus Christ did He did for us. We are the beneficiaries of His wonderful salvation and blessing. We have received great blessings and we need not hide it. Let others see God's blessings on you through your own positive image before the world.

People are radiant - who shine before others the 'good news' are people who preach sermons simply by the look on their faces. They don't have to preach because what they are shines through them to others. Don't forget the old adage- "What you are speaks so loud I can't hear what you say."

Many people are pessimistic about life in general and their lives in particular. Once Christ is lord of your life He will lead you into the greater blessings that He has for you but only if you let Him.

We have great hope in Jesus Christ so now we must radiate that to others. Don't keep your relationship with God as a secret. Be both radiant and positive. The Gospel is the good news -not the bad news. Your radiant and positive attitude toward life will make others desire what you have. The smile of Christ in your life and on your face will be the perfect witness to others. Let others see through you all the blessings that can be theirs also from God. Live the Christian life. Let others see Christ through you.

March 12, 2006

This is a very sobering question -"What do other see when they see you?" Robert Burns the famous Scotch poet has a line - "Would some gift the giftee gie us to see ourselves as ithers see us?”.

Many people spend most of their time hiding from others. We adopt certain camouflaging techniques. We lose ourselves in groups because we are afraid to stand alone. We put on facades hoping that no one will figure out the person behind the facade. We feel unimportant, insecure and alone.

NONE OF THAT IS NECESSARY BECAUSE YOU ARE SOMEBODY SPECIAL IN JESUS CHRIST.

What is true humility? It is the ability to forget yourself. The person who has an inferiority complex is not a humble person because he/she is concentrating on him/herself.

The true Christian is the person in whose life Jesus Christ is first and foremost. The true Christian is wrapped up in Jesus Christ and not self.

We try to "put our best foot forward" but that again shows how self-centered we are. When we reflect Jesus Christ to others around us they win see Him and not us.

Most people in the world are looking for something higher than themselves whether or not they define that as God. They look around to find genuine people because they have already seen too many phonies. The true Christian is the person who is sincere, real, and not self-centered.

The reason that Jesus Christ appealed to the masses, and the reason that He was crucified by the religious phonies, was that He was genuine and sincere in all that He did. He dealt with each person in a genuine and loving way and He rejected those who were religious bigots and phonies.

What do others see when they see you? Do they see you and then look beyond you to see Jesus Christ? That is what can draw others to God.

Emulate Jesus Christ by being a person of love, compassion, and genuine concern for the well-being of others. Help people to benefit them and not yourself. Go out of your way to bless others even at your own cost. Forget yourself and be involved in the blessing of others. Don't be critical. Reach out a loving hand to help others because they have needs. Don't ask "what am I getting our of this?" but rather ask how can I touch someone to bring them closer to God. You will live best and the happiest when you are dedicated to helping others. Let others see God through you.

March 5, 2006

We must always remember the centrality of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith. There have been various influences in the world that would compromise the position of Christ. From time to time we hear about efforts to get all the religions of the world together and have one common faith.

For the Christian the message of the Cross and the Resurrection are the foundation of all faith. The Biblical message is very clear. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is God's plan of salvation that is offered to the entire world. The Resurrection of Christ is God's broadcast to the world that nothing can ultimately defeat God.

Always remember who Jesus Christ was. I Timothy 3: 16 makes it very clear that Jesus Christ was God manifested in the flesh. The great God of all the ages, the eternal Creator, came into our world in a human form to try and bring back to Himself all mankind. In the Jewish sacrificial system Jesus Christ was the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world".

There are still those confused people who believe that their own efforts and their good works brings salvation to them and qualifies them for Heaven. People do not go to Heaven because they are good and people do not go to Hell because they are bad. People go to Heaven because they have opened their lives to God -the God revealed in Jesus Christ. People go to Hell because they have not opened their lives to God. God cannot help people whose lives are closed to Him.

Salvation is a gift that God offers to everyone and anyone. The secret of salvation is in opening our lives to God and living everyday in His presence and power. The Christian life is the greatest life anyone can live. It is the life of happiness, peace, fulfillment and productivity.

We are now in the season of Lent -the forty days preceding Easter. Forty days were a very sacred time in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, so the early church fathers set that forty days as a time of rededication and consecration for all Christians to reflect on what God has done for us in the Cross of Christ and His Resurrection.

As we approach the Holy Week -Good Friday and Easter Sunday -it is our time of remembering that there would be no Christian message without Jesus Christ. There would be no forgiveness of sin -no assurance of salvation - no hope of Heaven. The Christian faith is very clear that salvation is God's gift offered to the entire world. The Christian is the person who has accepted that gift for himself/herself.

God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. Thank God for Christ, the Cross, and the empty tomb.

February 26, 2006

We are in a series of thoughts about living the Christian life. That is what Christians ought to do, but we must remember that Jesus Christ alone is the basis for our salvation. The Bible makes it very clear that salvation comes through what God has done for us and not through what we ourselves do.

What is a Christian? It is the person who has opened his/her life to God. To be open to God is the key to the victorious life. There are many religious people who are not open to God. They are open to religion and to differing ideas about God, yet at the same time they are not open to God. To put it very simply, the world would be a better place if there were less religion in our world. Most of the problems of our world today are based on religion. Look at the bigotry, the hatred, the jealousy, the terrorism and other evils that come from religion.

Being open to God means turning away from religion and all of its problems to accept a new relationship with the God who has revealed Himself to us in and through Jesus Christ. It is a good expression -"For God's sake, don't be religious." It is also for your sake too. You are better off with God than any and all religions.

The Bible makes it very clear that God is not far from any of us. That is what the Christmas message is all about. God came to us in a form that we could understand to show us how much He loves people. He is not a God of hatred but a God of love. All of creation is explained by God's love.

John 1:11 says "He came unto His own and His own received Him not, but as many as received Him...became the children of God." Being open to God means to accept life from God. It means that you are living each day in an awareness of God. You are aware of His revelation in Jesus Christ, and you are living in His power. Paul rejoices "Christ lives in me. "

The life in Christ is the greatest life that anyone can live. It is exciting, enjoyable and complete.

The secret of success is in being open to God. He has come to you in a very personal way to help you. He did not come to criticize you or to find fault with you. He comes to you to lift you to a level of life that you cannot find in any other way.

Today - this week - make this your prayer. "Father God I am glad that you have come to me. Right now I open my life to you. I give myself to you. Fill me with your presence and enable me to be the person that you have created me to be. Take my life and guide me into that life you have for me. As you have given yourself to me, I give myself to you."

February 19, 2006

Some years ago, in a Christian bookstore, I saw a plaque that said "God, give me patience and do it right now". That plaque spoke for itself.

As we live the Christian life it is so important to understand that not everything conforms to our schedules. We want that 'easy' button that we see on television.

As John Bunyan's great classic The Pil2rims Pro2ress so easily shows, the Christian life goes through great turmoil and even crises before we get to where we ought to be.

Patience is tl1lly a virtue in all of life but particularly in the Christian life.

We get caught up in the concept that God can do anything and therefore we expect Him to operate on our schedule. We pray with this concept and we expect immediate results.

Most of the things we pray for involve other people. We want our family member to be more spiritual so we make that our prayer. At the same time we fail to realize that our schedule may not coincide with the schedule that someone else is on, or even with God's schedule for that person.

In the Bible it is very clear that God has great patience. He gives people chance after chance to come back into fellowship with Him. Look at how patient He was with the people of Israel, even when they were in their worst degradation. He sent prophet after prophet to reach them and time after time they made the wrong decisions.

We become very impatient with ourselves in that we wish we were further along in our own growth and spirituality. We have to realize that just as a child goes from infancy to adulthood over a period of years, we too often have to spend years in our own spiritual development. We need to spend time becoming the people that our Creator created us to be.

Look at the people that our Lord spent three years with. They all had a different schedule and plan for Him. Even after his resurrection they were not the spiritual people they needed it to be. They had various disagreements and even discrimination with one another.

In your life, forget the hustle and bustle and be more patient. In the Old Testament God said "Be still and know that I am God". Don't give up on your spiritual growth because it is still a priority. Don't condemn yourself for not be further along than you are. Rather spend your time in prayer asking your Heavenly Father to guide and lead you each day. Ask Him to work through you with you and others. Remember that they are His children and that He is also at work in their lives. The schedule He has for them is probably more patient than your schedule. Tribulation works patience. Be patient -God is at work.

February 5, 2006

It is very difficult for the average person to realize how close God is to them. We all know the excuses that others, and ourselves, make. We all feel unworthy, unqualified, etc. for ~d to be close to us.

The Bible has taught for many millennia that there is only one God and that God is everywhere all the time. He is not limited by the human limitations that bind people. For 2000 years in the Christian faith we have believed that there is only one ~d and that ~d has revealed Himself to us best in Jesus Christ, but there is only one ~d who has revealed Himself to us in many covenants. Jesus Christ being the best.

In John 20 Christ was alone with His disciples after His resurrection and He breathed on them and said "receive the Holy Spirit". For years this puzzled me but over the years I think I have come to understand it

What He was saying was this. You breathe air and you think nothing about it because air is everywhere. You breathe it when you are awake and you breathe it when you are asleep. Now ~d is just as close to you as the air that you breathe, and just as you freely accept that air into your body, you can just as freely accept ~d into your body.

Why is it so difficult for people to realize how easy it is to be filled by the energy and the presence of God? It is why He came to us in the human form that we call Jesus Christ God the Son.

In my office I have a sign that says "We are not human beings trying to be spiritual- We are spiritual beings trying to be human". The truth of that is most impressive. You are temporarily a human but you are eternally a spirit The true you is a spirit living temporarily in a human body.

God is spirit and you are spirit That means (as the Bible says) that you are created in the image of God. Only spirit will truly satisfy you because physical things cannot and will not.

Develop the awareness of how close God is to you each day. When things are rough and it seems nothing is going right, simply take slow deep breaths and say to yourself "The presence of God is filling my body. Take that time to be alone with ~d even if others are all around you. They won't have to know what you are doing because it is between God and you. When you are alone somewhere, at home or in your car, or anywhere else, just envision yourself being surrounded by God's presence and breathe deeply of that presence and let His power renew and energize you. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance.

God is already there. Why not take advantage of His presence. You do not have to live in your own strength or energy when He is there to help you. The Christian life is the greatest life anyone can live.

January 29, 2006

All this month our sermons have concentrated on the Biblical concept that God truly wants to be involved in your life and that He wants to bless and fulfill you.

It is a tragedy that more Christians do not believe this. Can you imagine a human parent that does not want to guide and bless his/ber child through life. Remember that it was Christ who taught us to pray "OUR FATHER ". One of the major moves of the New Testament over Old Testament theology was the concept that God has a personal and family relationship with His children. Never before Christ did anyone think of God as a Heavenly Father.

For the life that is open to God, there is a "band that guides us all". It is so unfortunate that many people do not desire a personal relationship with their own very best (potentially) friend The greatest life that can ever be lived -the happiest life of them all- the most exciting life -is lived daily with God.

God is not just interested in your spirit or soul He is interested in you as a person. He wants to bring into reality all the innate potential that is within you. After all -He put it there. He knows you better than you know yourself.

God created you with certain desires. You have a desire to be successful and productive in life. Every normal person has ambitions - goals that they would like to realize -things that they would like to do.

It is God's desire to be your partner and to help you fulfill these desires.

Talk to Him about what you would like to do and be because it is not too late. Don't think that you have blown your chance by bad decisions. We all make mistakes but God always has a back-up plan for us all

In prayer tell God your longings. Talk over your disappointments with Him. Name the things that you desire in life and then claim them as yours. Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the DESIRES of your heart".

It is so important to be specific in your requests. There are no specific answers to general prayers. When you truly want something then claim it in faith specifically. That is the way that God works. God focuses in on people who know what they want and have faith to see it become reality. Remember the words of Christ -"According to your FAITH be it unto you". James says "You have not because you ask not".

Negativity obviates the power of God. Fear, worry and low self-esteem block God's power. Live in faith and live God's blessings.

January 22, 2006

I have asked you before to think about how important you are to God. Most people feel unworthy or unqualified to be important to God. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that you are. God needs you that through you this world can become a better place.

One of my favorite Scripture verses is II Corinthians 8:9. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." That is a powerful verse.

Too many people totally misunderstand the basis for personal salvation. They think it is earned or conferred on some basis other than the gift and grace of God. Ephesians 2:8,9, and many other verses, state clearly that salvation is something that God offers to all people and that opening one's life to God through Jesus Christ is all that is needed. A Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God.

It would be easier to understand if we did buy it or earn it. We like to complicate what God has made so simple.

BECAUSE GOD PERFORMS THE BASIS OF SALVATION AND NOT PEOPLE, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT COSTS GOD NOTHING. IT COSTS GOD A GREAT DEAL AND HE HAS PAID IT ALL. Remember that great hymn -"Jesus paid it all; All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow."

The only basis for salvation that qualifies everyone is for God to freely give it. No matter what other basis could be used there would be people who could not qualify. So God freely gives it to all who are willing to accept it.

God paid a great price to redeem you and that means your are worth a great deal to Him.

He left the glories and peace of Heaven to come down to this world, take upon Himself human form (1 Timothy 3:16), suffered great humiliation and rejection of His own creation (John 1:11), offered Himself to the world (John 3: 16,17), died an unbelievably torturous death at the hands of those Be came to help, and then was placed in a borrowed tomb. That was not the end because Be proclaimed once and for all that no form of evil can ever defeat God by His Resurrection and triumph.

The greatest life that can ever be lived is ours freely by simply accepting all that God has done for us. HE DID IT ALL AND WE GET ALL THE BENEFITS.

If God loves you that much you are totally blessed in Christ and are very valuable to God. There is no room for self-denigration or any other negative emotion. The God that loves you that much will bless you.

January 15, 2006

Did you ever stop to think how commonplace faith really is? You use it everyday without really thinking about it.

From the time you awake each day you automatically do things through faith and you don't even realize it.

Through faith you turn off and on lights or appliances. You turn on the faucet and take a drink of water through faith. How do you know that someone hasn't poisoned your water overnight? You go out to the car and insert a key -how do you know that the car won't blow up?

Doing the same thing over and over day after day is faith. In that way faith simply becomes the habits you follow. It is what you have trained yourself to do, believing that it is safe.

Your relationship with God is also a faithful habit It is knowing that He loves you and wants to be your daily source of energy and success.

Many people have never trained themselves to be aware of how close they are to God and how close that God is to them.

I am certain that each day you meet someone you would just as soon ignore. Not every one is a pleasant experience.

However, the greatest experience of your day comes with the realization of how close God is to you and how much He loves you. You are someone very special to God. Each day develop the habit of looking for things that God does just for you. There are no coincidences in the faithful life because you start seeing God at work within you.

Develop the habit of talking with Him. Turn off the radio and spend a few minutes each day talking to Him. Ask Him for a blessed and productive day. Ask for special guidance and wisdom so that your day can be most enjoyable. Ask Him to guide you to someone that you can help that day. Simply ask God to fill you, guide you and use you that day.

I have already pointed out that you operate through faith in many things that you already do. Train yourself to realize how close God is to you, and how much He wants to bless you in all that you do. Your habits really are your faith. It is what you do naturally.

Just as you have crowded your live with other things. Crowd your life with God. You will have a more blessed day when you spend more time with Him.

The world around you will offer many distractions. Most of them will raise your blood pressure and increase your stress level. Dismiss those things from your life. Breathe deeply of God's presence. Let His energy flood you -body, mind and spirit.

When you realize the presence of God made available to you each day, you will do more, be more, and enjoy more all that you do and are.

January 8, 2006

The experience of a new year brings with it great hope. Every day becomes a new opportunity to experience God doing great things in your life.

The problem for most people is that they don't realize how God has a personal interest in them. They feel unimportant or at least not high enough on the list to expect anything special.

Many years ago a very fine book was written entitled Your God Is Too Small. The book discussed the ideas that many Christians have about God and the way that He is so busy with so many things that He has no time to spend with the average Christian. H you believe that your God cannot deal with each individual person in a very personal way then your God is too small. Don't allow your physical limitations to be applied to your God.

God is infinite and everywhere. He is the intelligence of the entire universe. He is its energizing power. People have human limitations but God does not He can deal personally with every individual in the entire world without neglecting any single person. He doesn't have to abandon you to deal with someone more important or to handle an emergency.

The greatest comparison of our relationship to God comes from Jesus Christ. He compares that relationship to the very best human parent, and He said that we cannot expect God to be less. Parents aren't to be rewarded because they deal with their children in loving ways. They do that because that is what a [parent does. Should we expect less from God?

Your Heavenly Father has a very personal interest in you, He doesn't love you because you are good or because you have earned it He loves you because you ARE. You are a very precious part of His creation.

God's love is absolutely altruistic. It is not an earned love. Human love is a bartering relationship but divine love is not God's very emotion is to help you in all of life. He exists to help you. He knows all your problems and He is there to take you victoriously through every battle and conflict.

In 2006 start expecting even greater blessings from God. Have the faith that says that He is your loving Heavenly Father, that He has a personal interest in you, and that He desires to bless you in abundance. Have a vibrant expectancy. Have an audacious faith that claims the victory that God has made yours through His death on the cross and His resurrection. GOD HAS GREATER THINGS FOR YOU THAN YOU HAVE YET RECEIVED.

October 23, 2005

We like to think that positive thinking and positive faith are products of the twentieth century, with such great leaders as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Dr. Robert Schuller, but such is not the case. In the Christian faith the message really began with Jesus Christ Himself and this is easily seen in all of His teachings. However 1,000 years before the time of Christ we have Proverbs 28:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish".

There is an old business adage "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Spiritually speaking this also applies to all of life but particularly the Christian life.

It is important for each person to have a vision in life - something that you desire to accomplish and/or fulfill. Without this, life simply happens to you and that is not in your best interest. The words of Christ are so true "According to you faith be it unto you". All of us have it as our goal to spend eternity in Heaven and that is certainly the most important goal but that does not mean that your time between then and now is just a waiting game.

Every Christian should be motivated by what he/she can do about touching the world and making it a better place simply because he/she is in it. There are definitely things that you can do while you are still here and that is the reason why you are still here. If your are older, get away from the absurd idea that your future is behind you and that you are simply passing the time until the Lord calls you home. It is up to you to make an impact everyday while you are here. Not only is that your responsibility, it is also your privilege.

Actually people are kept alive by what they desire to accomplish. Very often people die because they have nothing to live for. It is up to you to have a vision of what you would like to do and then fulfill that vision by your actions.

Your vision can be something for your family or another group or something you would like to do for yourself. There is nothing selfish or sinful about planning for your own blessings. Jesus Christ has promised the 'abundant life' (John 10:10) and you have the right to claim it. Beginning right now -if you have simply been taking life as it comes, start your own vision. Plan your future. Adopt goals that will be exciting and increase your own appreciation of life. Have a vision of what you want to do in the next five years -the next ten years and then work to fulfill that vision. God works with and rewards those who visions are built on faith. Leave frustration and disappointment behind and step out on faith.

RANDOM PASTORAL THOUGHTS

October 16, 2005

Usually we devote this page to "Things the Bible Teaches" but today we need to think local for now. There are challenges that our churches face and they are all good.

Soon we will be having our required annual charge conference which is basically a time of self study. It is up to each one of us to decide what kind of church our church should be.

As our churches grow, and we have added 100 new members in the last four years, we need to assimilate all these new people and new resources into service for our Lord. It is not a matter of new people replacing people who have served for years but rather sharing with others the opportunity to serve. The nominating committee will be working on the committees and groups for the new year.

As our churches grow new things need to be added. As an example we want more families attending our services. With new families we will have more infants. At White Haven we need to add a nursery for infants so that parents can relax and enjoy the service. We don't want someone to have to miss the service to operate a nursery, so we are looking for a qualified person to take care of infants during the service. This would be a paid position and the person would have to be there even if no infants and/or children are in church. If you know of such a person, well qualified and able, please speak to Rev. Kirkley or Sheila Herbert.

IF WE WANT PEOPLE TO ATTEND OUR CHURCHES WE MUST DO THE THINGs THAT WLL ALLOW THEM TO DO SO. NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE SUCCESS.

The most obvious need of our churches and communities is still our youth work. There are plenty of youth to serve but we don't have enough people who are able to serve. No church can continue to grow without reaching out to children and youth. We need a three-fold approach. We need to reach children through church school- we need to reach the younger youth -we need to reach the older youth.

I have the names of various people who want to do youth work but the list needs to grow. There are many things that we can do but it ~ takes dedicated adults to do them. Think through for yourself what you can do to touch the lives of young people. In a few weeks we will be ~,c having a meeting. If you have ideas or an interest, please speak to me.

Our homecomings thus far have been excellent However, we can't just look back because we need to grow into our futures. God has greater blessings for us than we have yet received.

October 2, 2005

The central theme of the entire Christian message is Jesus Christ. That is why the cross is the Christian symbol.

There are those people who like to distinguish between God and Jesus Christ as though Jesus was just another human being and God is after all GOD.

The message of the early Christian Church \vas and is clearly taught in the Bible. Paul writes in I Timothy 3:16 that "God was manifested in the flesh", meaning Jesus Christ. Christ Himself said "He that has seen me has seen the Father".

We have difficulty in understanding how the great God of all the ages could be 'condensed' in one person. That is the marvel of the Incarnation - we could not go to God so God came to us in human form -a form we can easily understand. God loves people so much that He came down in human form to raise us to a higher form.

The message that changed the world for 2,000 years is that in the person Jesus Christ God is still at work in our world. The problems of our world are not caused by God because they are caused by human error, but when people turn to the God revealed in Jesus Christ all the human problems are solved. There is a solution for sin, iniquity, greed, hatred, and all other problems.

The problem with our world is that people want to do everything in their own way. Even religion becomes a "I want to do it my way" kind of thinking. All evil is explainable because people want to run things their way rather than God's way.

You have heard it so many times -" A Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God".

Opening your life to God means that you are coming to Him for His help, guidance, support, leadership as well as many other good things. All of this is possible because God wants to help you because He loves you. Why try to live without God when life is so much more blessed with God?

All of this explains why Jesus Christ came into our world. He came to us in human form to lift us to a divine form.

When you feel the presence of Christ in your life you are in the presence of God and vice versa. We can't know all there is to know about God because He transcends human form, but Jesus Christ has revealed to us the otherwise unknowable God. "What a friend we have in Jesus" summarizes why God came into our world in the person Jesus Christ.

September 24, 2005

Just as in life it is such a pleasure to see babies grow into childhood, then teenagers and then adults, so is it with spiritual growth.

Yet there are many Christians who fail to understand the importance of spiritual growth. They think mistakenly that they are what they are in this world but that spiritual growth cannot occur until Heaven, so they are content with being 'themselves'.

Spiritual growth is the most important part of being a Christian. It makes all of life exciting, fulfilling and satisfying. In his letters to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul admonishes them for still being 'babes in Christ' and he complained that they were still 'on milk' rather than the full message of God's truth. Spiritual growth does not occur by accident but as the result of a deliberate quest.

Too many Christians excuse themselves for the lack of development by saying something like "Well, I'm not very spiritual" or "1 don't have the faith that other people have".

It is a basic Christian troth that you cannot worship God on somebody else's altar. You cannot experience God through someone else's experience. You can only worship God in the privacy of your own life.

Each person's faith must be designed to meet your own needs, and it must be self-generated. It is your private relationship with God and it is between God and you.

Development is always a part of life. You develop your home, your business and your social contacts. Your spiritual development is even more crucial because it is the key to peace and happiness.

How do you grow your own faith? You do so by realizing who God is, that is your loving Heavenly Father, as well as realizing who you are, that is a part of God's family through Jesus Christ.

Every day then becomes the practice of realizing how close God is to you and how close you are to Him. You want to develop that friendship. You want to spend time thinking about Him and how He can assist you in all that you do in life. You talk to Him constantly and you ask Him for guidance.

You also look each day for something special that God has done for you, because the more you see the benefit of God in your life the more you want more of it. You learn to say "Thank you God" for gratitude in you increases your God-awareness. Make spiritual growth your constant theme. It doesn't cost -it rewards you.

September 18, 2005

We have been taught for years that God's power is absolute and that no one can resist God. Unfortunately, that is not true.

There is no doubt that the power of God is great, but people can thwart it or they can maximize it. The Bible clearly teaches that.

Once God created people and gave them the power to choose good or evil, God has competition. God honors the power of people to choose and He does not force His will on anyone.

Because God respects and honors people's right to choose. He makes His blessings and His power available to people but they must make the choice to accept or reject. Only if a person decides to accept and opens his/her life to God's power can the power flow.

You have the capability of enhancing God's power through your receptivity. Your faith added to God's power can literally remove mountains.

Simply look at the great miracles that our Lord performed and you will have the pattern of receiving God's blessings. Those who were open to being blessed were blessed while others either simply looked on and/or went away unblessed. Remember what the Bible teaches about the people of Nazareth -"He could do no mighty works there because of ~ unbelief." Elsewhere Christ said to people "according to your faith be it unto you."

How do you maximize the power of God? Well there are several ways.

First, genuinely believe that God is your Heavenly Father and that He wishes the very best for you. He really desires to bless you more than you can desire to be blessed. He loves you and desires to help you.

Secondly, open your life completely to His presence and power. Invite Him to be your guide and companion in all that you are going through. You do not have to live this life in your own power but in the dynamic power of God. He wants to be your partner in life so invite Him everyday to do just that.

Thirdly, talk to Him each day, and many times a day, about your problems regardless of what they are.

Fourthly, believe that God is already at work bringing the solution to your need.

Fifthly, set your expectations high. Don't compromise to get an easier deal. God can accomplish miracles but you need to open the door to them through your own faith. Your faith combined with God's power can truly move the mountains that block your blessings.

September 11, 2005

Faith is far more than your church, or a motto. Faith is God in action in your life.

In Psalm 23 the Psalmist said that even when he walks through those places where danger lurks "1 will fear no evil". This is the clear teaching of the New Testament -the Christian that is "faith- full" can and will overcome any and all evils.

Whatever pre-occupies your mind controls you. You can dwell on fear, hypochondria, worry, defeat, despair and other negative things and you destroy yourself when you do so. On the other hand, you can rise above any and all problems and then you create the opportunity for God to let you live in 'the promised land'. The promised land is not Heaven but rather living every day here in this world with God's abundant blessing.

Twice in my ministry I have dealt with people who were totally pre-occupied with cancer. One was a woman who had nursed her own mother through a very painful cancer death. She told me that every night she prayed that God would never let her have cancer and she said "Now here, I've got it". The other was a man who had seen friends die of cancer and he had prayed every night that he would never get it and he got it. If your mind is pre-occupied with any evil you open yourself to that evil. In the Old Testament Job said "That which I feared came upon me". When you fear anything that thing controls you and you create the opportunity for it to touch you.

The victorious Christian lives in faith and that faith becomes a barrier to evil touching your life. James wrote to the early Christians and said "Greater is He that is in you (God) than he that is in the world (evil)".

Paul wrote to Timothy and encouraged him to "Take on the whole armor of God". He meant that Christians are not passive - taking anything the world sends you and feeling helpless before it Rather 'faith-full' people are aggressive and refuse to lie down helpless before evil of any kind. It is your life and you have the power of God available to you to be "more than conqueror".

Rather than fear evil, regardless of the form through which it touches us, we can rise above it and conquer it Say something like this to yourself everyday and many times a day: This body is the temple of God and I refuse to accept anything in it that does not glorify God.

Instead of fearing evil, reject it and order it out of your body. Don't fear evil- be aggressive through faith and God's power.

August 28, 2005 <--> September 3, 2005

Usually in this space I am writing about lessons that we need to learn from the Bible, but last week's celebration of our 50tb anniversary was so over-whelming that Joyce and I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to you all.

As we have stated it before, besides our daughter and her husband and our grandchildren and our son, the congregations are really our family. The emotion that you have poured on us is truly a love affair. Because of that, there was no way that we could limit the number to invite. All were invited and I knew that would be close to 200, even though some would not be able to attend.

Originally I thought we would just have an informal gathering with cake and cookies. Then Joyce Balderson said that we should let them handle it. Joyce chaired the committee with Sheila Herbert, Susan Wingate, and Norma Lee Richardson and what a job they did. They arranged the food, all that background activities such as invitations, decorations and publicity. The way that others assisted them through their own contributions was overwhelming to my Joyce and me.

The number of people who attended was awesome. It was probably higher than the hall could handle. That was simply a great show of love to my wife and me and it will never be forgotten.

Then there were the cards and various gifts to us despite the fact that we had said no gifts. The patience that all displayed in waiting for the food had to be a record. Put all of this together and it just was an overwhelming outpouring of love.

I only wish that all pastors could experience the love that is here in these churches. It should be that way in all churches but in all honesty it is very rare. These congregations are full of people who have learned the power of love and who practice it daily. Joyce and I did not create that love because it was already in you. We simply gave you the opportunity to release it, and the outflow was spectacular.

Where do we go from here? It is very simple. We continue to be people of love, working in harmony with one another, and building these churches up until they are full to overflowing. People want to go where love is, and when they find it here they will keep coming.

The commitment of my wife and me continues stronger than ever. We are in a unique position. As long as the churches are happy, the conference is happy, and the Kirkleys are happy, we are in for a long-range ministry. I don't need to climb the pastoral ladder to the top. I've been there - I am there- and I am doing what I enjoy doing.

Again the sincerest thanks from Joyce and me for the wonderful evening you gave us for our 50tb anniversary. It was awesome, deeply appreciated and unforgettable.

August 21, 2005

Many people are confused about their relationship with God, and there are many ideas about what that relationship is based upon. Here are a few possibilities.

1. Corporate salvation - the belief that salvation comes from belonging to the right group whether it is a church, a denomination, a race, or an activity.

2. Works salvation -that you earn your salvation by what you do and by what you don't do. You do what is good and avoid what is bad.

3. Endurance salvation -it takes a long time and a lot of struggles to get close to God.

There are a few other ideas that are popular but let us examine what Jesus Christ taught and this is contained in the Bible.

Christ did not like the traditional approach to God as seen in religions. Religions emphasized doing things in a pattern that was always simply external- what you wear, how you look, being pious, 'holier-than-thou', and following rules.

There is only one altar upon which you can worship God and that is the internal altar of your own heart. You cannot worship God upon some other person's altar, neither can you duplicate somebody else's experience.

In Matthew 6 Christ taught about worshipping God in private. The relationship between God and you is a private relationship. A 'public show of worship' is false and hypocritical. It cannot be displayed in public. As Christians we gather in church to learn from one another, to grow spiritually in fellowship, and to make a public witness about where we are in life, but true worship with God occurs best when we are alone with God in our homes, in nature, or in some other private situation. It is these private worship times that then gives credence and strength to our church gatherings.

If it is only in church that we feel close to God then we are missing out on the greater experience of God. It is in the privacy of worship, alone with your God, that salvation is found. Salvation is the wonderful gift that comes to us because we have taken time to be alone with Him. It is the by-product of opening our lives to allow God to be our partner in life. We are alive in God and He dwells within us.

August 14, 2005

How much do you expect from God? I mean, personally for you.

Because of too many years of 'church teachings', personal opinions, and 'miss-theology' people have been taught that their relationship with God was one-sided - that God expects things from us but that we have no right to expect things from Him. After all, He is God and very busy and we are too insignificant even to be known to God.

Thank God that is not the message of the Bible nor is it the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father seeing it and we are worth more than many sparrows.

There are many reasons people do not expect blessings from God:

1.  I am too sinful;

2. I don't read the Bible or pray enough;

3. God is too busy with important people;

4. I have never been religious.

These are a few but the list could go on and on. Sometimes inferior ideas about God are worse than no ideas about God.

Our lord clearly taught: 1. Sickness never comes from God; 2. God's will for people is health and prosperity; 3. The closer to God that we are -the more He can bless us; 4. The life that is closed to God is also closed to blessings.

Jesus Christ constantly compared our relationship to God with the relationship of a loving father to His family. That is why the Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father who art in Heaven". Every Christian has the right to ask God for blessings just as our earthly parents gives us blessings. Parents do things for their family out of love and not obligation and so does God. God's emotion for people is love - not indifference, scorn, or neglect

In the true partnership with God we work with Him and He works with us. That is what a Christian is -a person who has opened his/her life to God -the God revealed in and through Jesus Christ

Each day exercise your partnership with God. Ask Him for guidance and blessings. He wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed. Be open to His blessings and accept them in gratitude.

August 7, 2005

Today’s story in Mark 5 gives us the marvelous account of Christ reviving a 12 year old girl that had just died. Read it in your Bible to get an even greater insight, He called to her and said "Damsel, I say unto to you ‘arise’, and this girl who had been pronounced dead by the professionals who prepared bodies for burial, came back to life.

There is a sense in which Jesus Christ walks by us each day and gives us the invitation to walk more closely with Him. I refer to that as 'calling us to greater things'. He passed-by Matthew and said "follow me' and Matthew did. The same thing happened to at least four watermen who became disciples of Christ.

All of us have obligations that we must fulfill this world. We have families to take care of, businesses to run, things we need to do, Unlike the disciples who walked intimately with Christ for three years we do not have to leave what we are doing to follow Him. We can serve Him through what we do. That becomes our ministry.

When Christ calls us to better things, it means that we are constantly reminded of our relationship with Him, It means that we realize our own spiritual orientation, It means our relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in our lives and we do these other things to support our families and honor Him.

It is so easy in this world to be side-tracked by things of lesser importance, We get caught up in the games that other people play and we often join in with them. Cheap and easy living may attract us for awhile but they deny us the rewards and the blessings that come from walking the daily life with God,

It is not the matter that some people are religious and others are not. For too many people religion becomes just another game that people play. Religion is never the answer to the needs of people but a close relationship with GOD revealed in Jesus Christ is the answer.

Each person's most basic need is for a close relationship with God. We each have that yearning. Many people try to satisfy that need through doing various things but to no avail. It is only a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ that will bring peace and satisfaction to the inner being. Money, fame, success, adventure – none of these will satisfy. You are created for a relationship with God and that alone meets human needs.

That is why Jesus Christ calls us to greater things. He calls us to a greater and higher life – a life that is the most fulfilling and satisfying that can ever be lived. There is no boredom in the Christian life. There is that living fountain of water that is ours in Christ. Listen to the voice of Christ calling you and go great places with him.

July 31, 2005

Faith works miracles and God is in the miracle business.

The story that we look at today in the ministry of Christ is very interesting.

Jesus was on His way to heal a nobleman's daughter, who was at the point of death. A large crowd followed Him, hanging on every word He spoke and beholding His miracles.

In the crowd was a very timid, probably elderly, woman who had a health problem for 12 years. Being too shy to ask Christ for a healing, she quietly reached out her hand and touched the border of His garment. In Judaism the borders of garments had spiritual significance and were often used as prayer beads are used today. Christ felt power flow from Him and asked "Who touched me?" The disciples pointed out that they were in a crowd and many people were touching one another. Christ replied "Someone has touched me in faith for I felt power leave me". The woman then confessed her healing publicly and gave Christ the glory. He replied "Your faith has made you whole".

Every day you are touching things and things are touching you. You are touched by the negativity, fear, and other things that go through our communities. Sometimes we touch things in fear expecting the worse. There is hatred, strife, and many other negative and destructive things that touch us each day. When we give in or up to them, we are the worse for the contact.

It behooves every Christian to be a person of faith and do our part to be positive and self-creative. In the Bible Job said "That which I feared came upon me". The woman in the above story could have surrendered to her problem as being hopeless, but something inside of her said "God has the solution to my problem" and then she actively pursued it.

Attitude is always involved in any solution we desire. If we surrender to our problems they conquer us. When we look for the hope that is ours in God, we have a greater chance of obtaining the desired goal. Notice that Christ did not take the credit for the woman's healing but told her that her faith had made her whole.

In anyone's life problems will occur,. But how we face them is the secret of success. We can fall apart and become a victim of cruel fate or we can seek the solution that God has there for us. God always as a loving Heavenly Father desires to help us through all the crises of life. As a popular country song says "God won't make a mountain I can't climb".

Like the woman in the story reach out and touch Christ in faith. Your life will be far more blessed for it.

July 24, 2005

There is no bigotry worse than religious bigotry. We see that In the hatred of terrorism as well as the mistaken belief that some god wants followers to kill and destroy people who disagree with them.

The people of Jesus' time were not free from all prejudice. We see that in the absurd conclusion that Christ deserved death because He failed to follow the traditions.

One of their traditions was to look upon Samaritans as unfit for God because they were half-breeds. They had gentile blood in their background and were not pure-blooded Jews.

One day a religious leader asked Christ how he could serve God and in response Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. A traveler was robbed and beaten by thugs. Several religious leaders saw the man laying beside the road, but they refused to minister to him because they were on their way to serve God in the temple. A Samaritan stopped to help him, took him where he could get help and paid his expenses. The hero of the story was an unfit Samaritan while religious leaders were the cold villains.

The man questioning Jesus asked "Who is my brother?" but Jesus turned it around to ask "To whom can I be a brother?"

We are so busy in life that we often fail to help others in their needs. Like the religious villains of the parable, we have too much to do and we are too busy serving God to help people.

Have you ever considered that you can serve God best when you serve others?

Part of the experience of knowing Christ and serving Him means that we will be people of compassion and reach out to help those in need. We can't be like Mother Teresa and spend 100% of our time helping the needy because we do have physical obligations and things that need to be done. Sometimes you can help people and it won't cost a penny - sometimes it might. But you can be friendly and speak to others. You can help the lonely through your love. You can help the confused by compassion and guidance. I have the habit of speaking to people that I see on the streets. One day I saw this man coming and I smiled and said "Good morning". He gave me a dirty look as if to say "Why are you bothering me?" Obviously he wasn't used to people being friendly, but shouldn't we all be that way?

Yes, there are times that we need to share with others some of the blessings that God has poured into our lives. Jesus said "Freely you have received - freely give". If you want God to continue to bless you then learn to share your blessings with others. That is spiritual law.

This week look and see to whom you can be a brother/sister.

July 17, 2005

If there is any idea that we need to get away from, it is the idea that Christians are sissies afraid of their own shadows. Some of this is traced back to Christ Himself. Medieval art portrayed Christ as though he were sunken chest and frail. Remember the old hymn "Gentle Jesus meek and mild"? That hymn carried the old image.

Too many boys grow up with the idea that Christianity is a women's religion because Mom goes to church and Dad never does and furthermore in Sunday School they were always taught by women.

The Christ portrayed in the Scriptures was a man's man. In our Scripture reading today Christ made a whip and drove those from the temple who used it for self-serving commercial interests. Many of His disciples were rough and ready watermen, made strong by manually pulling fishing nets filled with fish into their boats. Can you imagine how some pipsqueak would have been treated if he had said to them "follow me" as Jesus said to them? They would have laughed him back into town.

After a tremendous beating Christ still carried His cross toward Calvary until His strength was gone. Christ impressed people with His manliness and not His weakness. He was anything but a pacifist. He had strength and He knew how to use it, but He was also very tender and caring to those in need.

Christians today should be people of emotional and physical strength. Christians are not to be doormats for the world to wipe its feet on. Christians stand for principles and for what is right even when it may not be what others would like. Christians do not bow down before evil and/or wrong. Christians should not let others abuse them in any way just because they are Christians. Christians do not let the world take advantage of them. Wrong is wrong and Christians do not give in to it.

Faith is really the backbone for the Christian. Paul wrote to Timothy and encouraged him "to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might".

I have heard of many Christians, in a tight situation, asking themselves "What would Jesus do?" Think about it this way, it is never wrong to stand up for what is right. It is always wrong to compromise with wrong.

Sometimes other people try to take advantage of Christians because "You go to church". They mistakenly believe that going to church makes you a sissy and that you are a pushover for their own interests. Be a Christian and stand up for the right. Faith is strength.

July 10th, 2005

It is time that we talk more about a Christian's relationship with his/her country.

For too long some voices have claimed that you can not serve both God and country. Supposedly you can serve God or you can serve your country but you can not serve both because they are antithetical. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

During the 23 years that I served as pastor in St. Mary's County our church was just outside the main gate to the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Our church people were 80% base related with representatives from all branches of the military.

I can say without contradiction that some of the finest and most Christian people I have ever met were in the military. They loved both their Lord and their country. In fact, they felt that being a Christian made them better personnel in the military. Their faith in God carried them through the crises that all people meet in life. Having observed many military people, I am convinced that their higher values in life came through their relationship with God. They had a quality of life not seen in others.

Whereas a Christian may not serve a communist country, there is no contradiction in serving a country whose foundation was built on God and on spiritual faith. More political leaders need the spiritual roots that faith brings. The excesses we see in government and some leaders are not caused by faith but rather by their lack of faith. People who feel the tug of God on their hearts will be different from people who have no spiritual orientation.

Even though theoretically there is a separation of church and state, it does not require that no one of faith can be in government. It also does not mean that the government must oppose all faith. Some of our proudest moments of history, such as George Washington praying at Valley Forge, were based of faith. Our coinage bears the motto "In God we trust".

Throughout history we have seen Godless governments, such as Russian communism, or Hitler's horrid persecution of the Jews. Other examples can be cited. The further people are away from God the more vicious will be their countries. People who leave out God will resort to all evils, while people with faith in God will be compassionate and devoted.

Let us pray for more faith-full leaders in our branches of government. People whose lives include their faith in God will be those who stand for the right and righteous people.

July 3, 2005

With all the hullabaloo that we hear today about the separation of church and state, we need to get a clear understanding about who and what a Christian is.

If you listen to some in the media you would get the idea that Christians are destroying America. By the way -that was the charge that Nero and the Romans used in the first century to inspire hatred against Christians, which led to the deaths of five to six million Christians for the ensuing 150 years.

America was founded by Christians who wanted to be free to worship God in their own ways. That is why all the original founding documents included references to God, faith and freedom. We must never forget the reasons that America got its start even though some want to bury that part of our past.

There is no conflict between being a Christian and being loyal to your country, particularly so when you consider why and how this country got its start.

As your pastor, let me reaffirm my own priorities.

I am first and foremost a Christian -one committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. On that I will never compromise.

Secondly, I am a husband and a family man. I do not believe in neglecting my wife and/or the family that my wife and I have created. The Bible makes this very clear.

Thirdly, I am a very patriotic American. I refuse to apologize for that. I am proud of our country and what it stands for. I stand with the early patriot who said "My country -may she always be right -but right or wrong -my country". It is part of the duty of every Christian to support, uphold, and defend this country.

Fourthly, I am a minister. This is not just my profession. It is my life. All my life -all I have ever wanted to do is to touch people's lives for the Lord. People may retire from a job, but you never retire from serving the Lord. I intend to keep ministering as long as the Lord gives me my health and the opportunity. There is still so much to do.

Notice that I have not listed denominations or politics. These things are far down the list. I believe that all Christians should do all they can to improve our country in every possible way. That is why I served for 10 years as a member of the St. Mary's County Board of Education and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the four priorities listed above take precedence over everything else.

There is no conflict between being a Christian and being a loyal American. Let us all be proud of that honor.

June 26, 2005

There is an old adage that goes back to ancient history - "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

What you look at in life is what you will see. If you go around looking for beauty in life you will see it. On the other hand, if you go around looking for the bad or the ugly then that is what you will see.

Today we ask the question -"What are you looking at?"

In our scripture lesson today (Matthew 14) we have the marvelous story of our Lord walking on the water. Simon Peter said "Lord, if it really is you let me come to you" and Christ invited him to do so. Simon Peter probably looked back at the disciples and said "Fellows look at me -I'm walking on water". Then he looked at the waves and wondered to himself what he was doing there. At that point he began to sink. He cried out "Lord save me -I perish". Christ reached out and pulled him back on top of the water and said to him "Why did you doubt?".

You see -as long as Peter was watching Christ he was safe. When he looked at his circumstances he went under.

What are you looking at in Life? If you see only the bad, the ugly, the broken in life, then that is what you will see. If you look beyond those things and see God at work then you will see victory.

All of us have driven when it is raining. You can either focus on the raindrops on the windshield or you can look beyond them and see other things. Why look at the raindrops for they are only temporary. Look beyond them and see your destination.

Part of what you see in life has to do with how you see yourself. If you view yourself as being inferior, unimportant, and of little value then you are denying your true self. When you see yourself as part of God's redeeming work and part of God's family then you are opening the door to the blessings that God has for you.

Jesus Christ came into our world as the Redeemer to bring people back into fellowship with God. Through Jesus Christ you are not a nobody -you are a special somebody. You deserve in life the blessings that God makes available to people.

Furthermore, you are part of God's family and that makes you royalty. As such you can live above the circumstances rather than under them.

In life keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. He is your Lord and Savior. Don't look at all the undesirable things around you because they will defeat you. Realize who you are in God and look at the blessings that God has for you. Your happiness and victory over life has been decreed for you in Christ. Keep your eyes on Him and everything else will be taken care of.

June 19, 2005

On Mothers' Day I made some strong statements about the sacredness of womanhood. The major point was that women are sacred and as such should be treated in very sacred ways.

Today I wish to emphasize the sacredness of manhood. Just as women are sacred in God's design of the family, so also are men. They have been created by God for a very special role in life. A role that is so vital that people suffer when that role is unfulfilled.

According to the divine plan each person comes into this world with certain abilities, functions, and responsibilities. Just because the roles are different, it does not mean that one is inferior to another. In God's eye, as taught in the Bible, each person (man or woman) is a very precious part of creation. Each plays a vital role in the plan of pro-creation and as such total equality is in the system.

For too long, due to the misunderstanding of people, men have exercised the role of being superior to women. "Me Tarzan -you Jane" was thought to be the divine plan. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Women are sacred -men are sacred and each should revere and respect the sacredness of one another.

Men have unique roles in God's plan, just as do women. The role of the man is to be the strong male influence in the home and in society. Too many men have deserted that role as well as their responsibilities. In Ephesians 5:25 we read "Husbands -love your wives". It goes on to say that when the husband loves his wife he is really loving himself because the two are one. The sacredness of being a man is fulfilled by being a person of love. The reason that more people do not love their spouse is because they have stopped loving themselves, which creates a void in life that they try to fill with side distractions.

Just as the love of a mother is needed to develop the full potential of a child, the love of the father is just as vital. Years ago I heard a statement -"The best thing that you can do for your child is to love his/her mother." The broken home, as necessary as it sometimes is, also breaks up the lives of children.

Men are to be role models for the family and the community. They need to be vitally involved in the lives of children. They need to set standards of morality, decency, kindness and affection.

Men need also to be involved in the church and the spiritual development of their children. I know that most men are extremely busy but the spiritual aspects of life become priorities -priorities that will set examples for children to follow.

Women are sacred -men are sacred. Let's treat each other in that way.

June 12, 2005

One of the things that stands out in Biblical teachings is the responsibility of each person for who they are in life and where they are in life.

It has been popular theology (even though it is very wrong) to believe that God makes all the decisions for you and that the less desires you have in life and the more you just accept in life what life hands you, the more you are fulfilling God's will for you. This is sheer nonsense and 100% wrong.

Spirituality is never found by maintaining the status quo but rather by rising above all other circumstances and fulfilling all the talent and potential that God has put within you. Spirituality is the challenge to be the unique individual that God created you to be.

One of the greatest mistakes people make is the desire to be just like everybody else. There are no 'cookie cutter Christians' created by God. This is a great problem with our youth today -the desire to be 'just like everybody else' and to do the things everybody else is doing. The problem with conformity is that somebody tries to be everybody so that nobody has to be anybody.

Instead of believing that God makes all decisions for you and that you are to accept whatever life hands you, be the unique person that God has created you to be by fulfilling that wealth of hidden talent within you.

Set your own goals in life and then work diligently to fulfill them. The person who fails to plan in life already plans to fail in life. Life will be what you make it- it is entirely up to you.

The Bible has a great deal to say about dreamers -about those who raise their gaze higher than others. These are the people that God can work though because they refuse to be mundane and ordinary.

God is not honored by the smallness of people's ideas -He is honored by those who think big and then enter into a big partnership with God. Instead of doing something small for God why not reach out and do something big for God? Audacious faith is the kind of faith that claims great victories because "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world".

Be all you can be in God. That is the only way to success and fulfillment in life. Reach for the higher things in life in a partnership with God.

June 5, 2005

Today we conclude our studies on the Lord's Prayer. I hope you realize that this prayer was given at the beginning of Christ's ministry and that it came years before the Cross and the Resurrection. Christ was teaching spiritual Jews about spiritual prayer. A lot of prayer amounts to a 'religious' exercise in futility, because it is not spiritual prayer.

Today we conclude with the phrase "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever". Simply stated this phrase teaches that God is everything and those who are connected with God have everything while those who are not open to God have nothing.

Our entire universe is filled with both the presence and the power of God. Life, in the truest sense of that word, means having a relationship with our Creator.

To be in God is to be alive and to leave out God means that there is nothing left. It is not a matter of being religious, because God is not religious. People are in the religion business but God is in the people business. We do a great disservice to God and ourselves when we turn Christianity into just another religion by all the religious things that we add to it.

Simply stated - a Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God and because of that lives in a daily relationship with God. You don't have to live the Christian life in your own power or energy because God offers to each person the fulfillment of His power in the life of that person.

You can summarize the entire teachings of The Bible by a simple insight -"Outside of God there is only death". It is so foolish for people to exclude God from their lives when the presence of God could enhance their lives everyday.

Everything is God and God is everywhere. The breath that you breathe is filled with the peace and power of God. Entering into that partnership with God, which is what He offers you, makes the difference between living on your own or living with God. Why try it on your own when God guarantees you peace, fulfillment, and the truly satisfied life.

People could live without the benefits of electricity but why do that when there are so many other blessings that come to you because of electricity. It is the same with God. His love and power is available to each person, so why try to live without Him when life is so much better with Him? God is everything that is good and the closer you walk with Him each day makes life worthwhile and complete.

May 29, 2005

Today we come to the second phrase in The Lord's Prayer that shows a remarkable difference between 'Pre-Cross and Pre- Resurrection Theology' and 'Post-Cross and Post-Resurrection Theology'. Last week we discussed "Lead us not into temptation" - the old idea that God tests people with temptations. Today we look at "Deliver us from evil'. This simply carried on the old idea that unless God intervenes individually for us, we just can not survive, because evil is always more powerful than people.

The most basic theme in the Christian faith is the victory that passes to every Christian because on the Cross and through Christ's Resurrection we have already been delivered from all evil and we can claim the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ.

We must understand the momentous victory that took place on the Cross. Jesus Christ (God Incarnate) entered a world that is filled with all types of evil, went to Calvary's Cross to forever defeat all the forces of evil, and literally bring the world back to its Creator through the Christian concept of love and all-encompassing forgiveness.

In Colossians 1:13 Paul exults "He (God) has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated (moved us over) us in the Kingdom of the Son of His love".

The victory of Christ on the Cross was for the purpose of the freedom that is now given to each person through Christ. You are no longer a loser waiting for God to save you -You are a victor because Jesus Christ has already delivered you from all the power of evil Each person is eligible to accept this new found liberty in Christ. Christ's victory was for the purpose of freeing you and making you a victor. Your name is already on the check -the power is in the bank and it is yours to use.

That is why Christ sent out His disciples to heal the sick and to cast out demons because no evil can withstand the power of God. You no longer are under the influence of evil because Christ has set you free. No evil can control you unless you surrender to it.

How do you see yourself? You can see yourself as this poor unfortunate person waiting for God to come and rescue you from this world, or you can see yourself as the victor standing strong and complete in Jesus Christ and no form of evil can conquer you. You have already been delivered in and through Christ and you have the authority to use the power of God. Read Luke 10:19.

Instead of praying to be delivered (pre-Cross) you have already been delivered. You are free and perfected in Christ.

May 22, 2005

Today in our study of The Lord's Prayer we come to the phrase "Lead us not into temptation". This is the most striking difference between Jewish theology and Christian theology. To understand this phrase we have to understand the Old Testament Jewish mind.

To the Hebrews there was only the power of an Almighty God. To them Jahweh (the name for God given to Moses at the burning bush) was the only power in the world. Therefore they believed that God was responsible for everything -good or bad. They believed that God sent storms, floods, droughts, famines, even evil rulers. If tragedy struck you or your family they believed that it came from God. They believed that even sickness came from God. They thought that God sent temptations to test people and to see who was weak and who was strong.

Please remember that the Lord's Prayer was taught to Jewish believers and that it came before the cross and the resurrection. It fit right into the Old Testament concept of God tempting people. The concept of God taught by Jesus Christ was that God was a loving father who wanted only the best for His family. (Matthew 7:11) No loving parent would deliberately place illness or evil upon his/her child and neither would our Heavenly Father. Evil occurs, not by divine decree but by the forces of nature as well as the law of averages.

There is a definite change in the New Testament -not that God had changed but that people's understanding of God changed. In James ( 1:13) the apostle clearly states that evil never comes from God, whether that evil happens to be in the form of temptations, sickness, or financial disaster.

How often today people still blame God for the things that go wrong. They think that God is punishing them for some sin by sending disease, financial reverses, or tragedies.

The God that would do that may fit into the theologies of some religions but not in the Christian faith. One way to distinguish between religion and the Christian message is to analyze their concept of God.

In the Christian faith God is never the cause of evil but He is always the cure for evil God leads no one into evil nor does He cause evil to confront anyone.

The New Testament, in the Scriptures read today, clearly teaches that evil occurs and that it rises from the human factor and not God. Evil people will do evil things, but evil is never the will of God.

May 15, 2005

Today we return to our study of The Lord’s Prayer after various weeks of interruption. We will finish this study before summer.

Remember that the Lord’s Prayer as taught by Christ was to teach spiritual Jews how to pray as opposed to the gaudy pretentious prayer that they were accustomed to hearing.

This prayer, however was and is pre-Christian because it came at the beginning of Christ’s ministry and three years before His crucifixion and resurrection. It did not include the victorious message of deliverance found in the Resurrected Lord. As we will see in the coming messages in this series that the conflict between the Jewish theology before Christ and the resurrection theology of the new Christina faith.

Today we come to the phrase “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The Scripture lesson goes on to say that if we do not forgive others the wrongs that they have committed against us that God is not able to forgive us the wrongs that we have committed against Him.

Please remember that the Bible was not written in English. Our Lord spoke in Aramaic, which was then translated into Greek, the language that the New Testament was written in, and then translated into English some 1500 years later. That is a lot of perhaps lost meanings.

What Christ was teaching is very simple. God can only help the person whose life is open to be helped. He forces nothing on anyone.

What does it mean to have a life that is open to God? That goes right to the heart of what a Christian is. IA Christian is the person whose life is open to God, who lives in fellowship with God each day and enjoys God’s blessing in his/her life.

What is the opposite of that? It is to live a closed life – one that is wrapped up in one’s self. One who lives constantly in fear and worry. It is living the self-protected life out of fear of being hurt or just plain selfishness.

The life that is not open to fellowship with others is the life that is also closed to God. The life that refuses to up and forgive others is the life that is not open to receive God’s forgiveness. If you are not open to others, to the same degree, you are not open to God. It is not a matter of your orientation, but rather a matter of being loving and accepting of others. The life that loves others is also open to receive the love that comes from God.

God truly loves people and desires to help them but He can only help those whose lives are open to Him. When you forgive others you make yourself eligible to receive His forgiveness also.

May 8, 2005

Today is Mother's Day but I want to broaden it to include all women. I am going to write many things I have said before in various settings, some in sermons or classes, because they need to be said and particularly here on Delmarva which historically has been a bastion of male chauvinism. For too long men have believed that they are superior to women, that God has given to them this right and "me Tarzan -you Jane" is still thought of as divine law.

The Christian portions of the Bible teaches absolute equality between men and women. Ancient history may have taught otherwise but with modern times modern insights are needed.

What I am about to write comes from 58 years of pastoring and marital counseling with all situations imaginable.

It is far harder to be a woman than it is to be a man. It takes more of a person to be a woman than a man. Women are far more complex than are men, mainly due to the pro-creative processes that are built into the female psyche. Men have it easy compared to what nature itself has placed on women. I have said over the years that nature has already played enough 'dirty tricks' on women and men do not have to add more.

There is a sacredness attached to womanhood that is often unseen and/or neglected. The privilege of carrying a new life in her body for nine months, and then lovingly caring for that new life for the next twenty years, is a special God-designed blessing that no man will ever be able to duplicate. God created women because He knew that no man could ever fulfill those responsibilities. God created women for a very special role which by itself makes womanhood sacred.

Yes, men are physically stronger than women and that situation has caused men to overcome their own inadequacies through abuse, promiscuity, and other absurd actions.

God, in the original plan, created the family -father, mother and child(s). Each person in that arrangement is equal in value before God even though the roles are distinct. There is no sense of dominance or control because each fulfills a divinely given function. Father and mother are to love one another and then to mutually love their children thus contaging a love relationship which has its roots in God.

Does God love women more than men? Absolutely not because He loves them equally. Each has a separate but equally important role. Each role is sacred before God as both men and women fulfill the potential that God has placed within them, whatever that potential may be.

It is sacred to be a woman. Women -accept and fulfill your sacredness. Men -honor their sacredness.

April 24, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Christ's ministry, it was pre-cross and pre- resurrection. Christ was simply teaching spiritual Jewish believers how to pray spiritually rather than 'showy prayer' often used in religion. The theology of this prayer was simply the continuance of Jewish theology. There is a definite difference in pre-resurrection theology and post-resurrection theology, which shows up in the later sections of the prayer.

Today we come to the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread".

Right from the beginning we run into a translation problem. Please remember that Christ did not speak English. He spoke Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek, so there are problems in translating from one language to another, not to mention the three languages.

The word that is translated as 'bread' in English refers to far more than just food. It really refers to everything that anyone can need in life -health, money, careers, finances, etc. God is in the blessing business and it is His desire to bless and fulfill you in all that you do.

When we think of the old translation 'Give us this day our daily bread' we usually picture someone going down to the market place and procuring only what is needed to squeak through that day. That is certainly the misguided insight I had as a child, and it was made worse by those who taught that God only dealt with us on a daily basis otherwise we would forget how much we needed Him.

Even today if someone is hungry it is hard for them to even think of other needs. But God is far more interested in just seeing that you have food on your table. He wants you to live the truly 'abundant life' that Christ promised His followers. That abundant life includes the fulfillment of all the potential that God has put within you. The Christian life is the most blessed life in every way. God is not now and has never been in the failure business. Go back to Psalm 1 where God promises His followers "Whatsoever you do will prosper".

Please remember that our Lord taught His disciples to think of God as being the most perfect, the very best loving father. No loving father wants to see his children groveling in defeat and despair and neither does God.

Every day God wants to pour blessing after blessing in your life. That is what Christ taught when in The Lord's Prayer He taught us to remember from whom all blessings flow. God is in the needs- meeting business and He wants to meet all of your needs.

April 17, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Christ's ministry, it was pre-cross and pre- resurrection. Christ was simply teaching spiritual Jewish believers how to pray spiritually rather than 'showy prayer' often used in religion. The theology of this prayer was simply the continuance of Jewish theology. There is a definite difference in pre-resurrection theology and post-resurrection theology, which shows up in the later sections of the prayer.

Today we come to "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven".

Since the beginning of the world there has been a definite conflict between what people do and what God wants them to do. People have hard heads, are very self-centered, and are determined to do everything 'their way' even if it is wrong and/or harmful to them. God never dictates to people and He has given them free-will to develop their own lives. What God wants people to do is to live life to its fullest and best, because this is in their best interest. However, people often choose the path that is not the best for them. We waste our lives with so many foolish things when we could do a lot better.

Obviously, God runs Heaven and people run this world. In Heaven everything will go right because it is God's world. There are no wasted lives there.

When we pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" we are praying that God will overrule the evil in this world and help people to find the higher way that is always there for them. We are asking God to lead people who don't want to be led, into something better for them. No one can deny the sin, the hatred, the evil that is in our world, and we are praying for people to find God's way.

There is also an even more important aspect to this request. We are aligning ourselves with God and in this request are giving ourselves to God's way. We are not just praying for the world but also for ourselves. "Thy will be done in my life". In the battle of good and evil which rages within each person, we want God's power to overrule our own tendencies and to help us find and live the higher life. We are both acknowledging the higher way and asking God to help us live it.

The hardest thing any human has to do is to surrender his/ber own human desires to allow God to lift us to higher things. The history of the world is this conflict - the desire of people to follow whatever they wish rather than the higher life that could be ours in God. To live with God's way is the only worthwhile decision. "Thy will be done" is the smart decision.

April 3, 2005

Our churches have truly had a great Easter season and hopefully you have too.

The message of Easter is so spectacular that the afterglow of Easter should last until next Easter. As much as we love the Christmas message of God coming into our world to help us solve our problems, that message would be incomplete were it not for the victorious message of Easter.

Think of all the people who thought that they had gotten rid of a trouble-maker -the religious leaders and the Romans. Rather than solving their problems they only compounded them. It has been estimated that by the year 65 one- tenth of the Roman world were Christians, even though it was illegal to be a Christian. By the third century it is estimated that one-third of that world were Christians. The church grew during persecution when people realized all that was offered to them in Jesus Christ. So many people had become Christians when it was against the law to be a Christian that the Roman government repealed those laws.

Today the message of victory in God should be contaged by the glow in the lives of Christians. The presence of Jesus Christ in your life lights a fire that nothing else can extinguish. Paul exults "1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and you can too.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only tells us about our victory in Heaven but it also enables us to live the victorious life in this world.

The Bible tells us that "in all things we are more than conqueror~. If you are more than a conqueror than you can never be conquered by anything that this world can throw at you. Nothing can come between you and God unless you let it. You can give in to fear, worry, anxiety, sin and a host of other problems but you don't have to do 80.

Remember who Jesus Christ is- your very best friend, a constant companion, your guide through the maze of life, as well as many other blessings.

Think of how happy you would be if all of a sudden you received millions of dollars. In Jesus Christ you have even better than that. Easter guarantees that. Realize it and appreciate it. All things are yours in Jesus Christ. Live in that glow.

March 27, 2005

Today the Christian church culminates the message of redemption that began on Christmas day -the message of what God has done for our world in coming into our world in human form, dying for the sins of the entire world, and then rising from the dead to show that evil, no matter how powerful, can never defeat God.

The message of history is quite clear .There is much evil in our world. Sometimes this evil veils itself in religious garb and sometimes, like communism, it tends to be anti-religious. The general characteristic remain the same, in that, people are in rebellion against God. We see it here in our own country in the way that Christianity is being attacked in the media, on television and radio, and often in court decisions. People who have spiritual values and principles are thought of as bigots and/or religious fanatics.

The world to which Jesus Christ came had many of the same characteristics. In many ways the world of that day was even more religious than the world of today because there were more religions then. Most people believed in many gods.

The basic characteristic was still the same -people turned to gods that were not very holy or even moral. The search for pleasure was the number one god, much as today. They rejected morality, good, and similar goals in favor of sensual pleasures and self-gratification.

The world was steeped in corruption, violence, and sin. In the Christmas message God came into our world offering people something better than the circumstances they had created for themselves. The world was too satisfied with its own life-style to try God's way. In the crucifixion of Christ evil thought it had won the battle between God and evil Christ arose from the dead to show the world that despite all its efforts evil can never finally conquer God. There is an on-going battle today where people think foolishly that they can win and have a better life without God than they can have with God.

The empty tomb of Christ still announces to the world that the life lived without God is a loser's life. That the wages of sin are still death and destruction. Christ opened the way so that people can return to God and find the only satisfying and fulfilling life.

It is so foolish not to live life in a partnership with God when it is offered to everyone, and the life God offers is enjoyable, fulfilled and fulfilling. The life without God is a self-destructing, painful and frustrating experience leading to great heartache. The life with God is a life of peace, joy and power leading to eternal happiness and blessing. Learn the lesson of the empty tomb. Evil can never win and those who choose to have God in their lives can never lose.

March 20, 2005

One of the great confrontations of all time is being re-enacted today on Palm Sunday. Jesus The Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey offering Himself to the world as Lord and Savior. That day He was acclaimed as the Messiah by the masses who knew Him. Five days later He was crucified by the religious leaders who did not know Him.

There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for Him from the crowd. The Passover was to be celebrated that week so thousands of the faithful were going to Jerusalem for the spiritual preparation proper for Passover. Many of these people were from Galilee where Christ had healed thousands of people and ministered to many thousand more. They looked upon Him as the Messiah –the leader who was to restore spirituality in Israel and free Israel from the Roman occupation. The palm branch for years had been the sign of Jewish independence so the crowd waved them in expectancy.

Meanwhile the religious leaders were in the Temple, gleefully already counting the money that these worshippers would leave behind them when they returned to their homes for Passover. The religious leaders were appointed by the Roman, and they got their power by bribing the Romans. {Nice spiritual hunch.) The religious leaders always wanted to thwart any movement that would cause the Romans to replace them. They all wanted a quiet Jerusalem.

When the loud entourage arrived at the Temple the religious leaders begged Christ to silence them but He rebuffed their requests. It was at that point they realized that they would have to kill Christ to save their own hides. So after the worshippers returned to their own homes some distance away, the religious leaders took Christ prisoner, put Him on trial and sentenced Him to death. However, Rome was in charge and no one could be put to death except by the order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Therefore, early on Friday morning they took Christ to Pilate who finally gave in to them and ordered Christ crucified.

The spiritual people who knew Christ had acclaimed on Palm Sunday while the religious people planned his execution.

How do you greet Christ today? Are you among the religious who put religion ahead of God? Are you among the spiritual who worship and acclaim Him as your Lord? Religion, then as now, killed Jesus Christ. Those who know God worship Christ, knowing that He is the bridge that reconciles people to God. He truly is our Lord and Savior. Greet Him today with palm branches - not with a hammer and nails.

March 13, 2005

The ‘Lord's Prayer’, as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers bas been very revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it is pre-Cross and pre-resurrection. Christ was continuing all of the spiritual truths taught to the people of Israel for centuries. He was teaching them 'spiritual’ prayer, as opposed to the 'showy prayer’ often used in religion.

Today we come to the phrase "Thy Kingdom come".

When we use this phrase. we are emphasizing that there really are two kingdoms - one of good and the other of evil. We don't have to look far for the evil in our world -it is seen everywhere. We often see evil in religion. We see it in the hatred, bigotry and violence that are often expressed through religion. We see it even in the Christian faith when one group believes that they are right and all otters are going to bell. We see evil in the horrible things that people do - child abuse, rape, murder, sexual asaults, discrimination, corporate greed and dishonesty. We even see it in the 'acceptable' sins such as jealousy, gossip, envy, character assassination, etc. Evil is everywhere because everywhere there are evil people.

The kingdom of God is the opposite. It is the kingdom where good overcomes evil It is where righteousness, love, and human kindness are in control. It is tilled with people who wish to partner with God every day and in all that they do.

When we pray this prayer we are also asking that God tak2 over in our lives. Thy kingdom come in my life. In other words in the conflict of good - versus evil we choose to he on God's side. We want the world to know that we stand with God and good and we want that seen in our lives. We choose each day to partner with God.

There is no clearer picture of the conflict of good and evil than that seen in the ministry of Christ. He came into our world to call people back to God. De was rejected by organized religion. He was crucified by power, greed, and evil ambitions. Love and good was rejected. However, on Easter Sunday through His resurrection, God was showing 1he entire world that evil can never defeat God and the cause of good.

Every one of us makes a choice every day. We either choose to stand with God or we choose to follow evil. "Thy kingdom come" is the spiritual alignment of ourselves with God. We know that God can never ultimately lose and that evil can never ultimately win. This is spiritual prayer. It is renewing our allegiance to God and all the goodness that is ours in God.

March 6, 2005

We have been examining The Lord's Prayer these past few weeks and will continue this through the spring, looking at a different phrase each week.

I have made the comment that this prayer is a pre-Christian prayer in that it was made in the early ministry of Christ and he was teaching Jewish believers about spiritual prayer. This is not to fault the prayer, but being pre-cross and pre-resurrection it fits better into ritualistic Jewish worship rather than the post-cross and post-resurrection Christian faith. There is a decided difference between spiritual Jewish faith and developed Christian faith. We will see more of the differences as we move through this study because they are monumental.

What the prayer has taught us thus far is the family relationship that exists between Jahweh (the Old Testament name for God) and His children. Christ was ministering to spiritual Jews reminding them that Jahweh was their father, which belief is carried over into Christianity. God is a loving Father who wants the close ties of family with all believers. In Matthew 7:11 Christ compares the loving human relationship that parents have with their children and God's love for people.

He further wants us to understand two Heavens – the one waiting for believers after death but also the one that exists here in this world for us the moment we turn our lives over to God. Wherever God is becomes a Heaven, and it starts here and now in this world and then continues into eternity in the true Heaven.

When we pray "Hallowed be Thy name" we are saying that only God is holy and that all humans are less than the people God would have them to be. Define sin as anything that keeps you from being the person that God has created you to be. It can be doing bad things or doing good things if those things do not express the best of efforts on your part. In the Old Testament the origin of the concept of sin comes from a term in which the archer is 'missing the mark', that is, not hitting the bullseye. You may miss the bullseye by one half an inch or you may miss it by ten miles, but what matters is that the archer 'missed the mark'. This should help us to understand more about the death of Christ on the cross. Christ died for the sins of the entire world - those who miss the mark by one half an inch as well as those who miss it by ten miles. When we turn to Christ ALL sin is forgiven and we have a new chance to be the people God created us to be.

February 28, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been very revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, it is pre-cross and pre-resurrection. Christ was continuing all of the spiritual truths taught to the people of Israel for centuries. He was teaching them 'spiritual prayer, as opposed to the 'showy prayer' often used in religion.

Today we come to the phrase "Hallowed be Thy name".

We know that only God is holy. People are human and prone to selfishness, greed, cruelty, foolishness, stupidity, and many other problems. Bear in mind the definition of sin that I gave you several weeks ago. Sin is anything that keeps you from being the person that God created you to be. You don't have to do something bad to sin. If you are being less than the person God created you to be, then you are sinning, even if you are doing something good. That may seem contradictory to you but it is not. Let's use a mathematic parallel- if you score a 75 or 80 when you could score 100, then you are being less than the person that God has created you to be. That is sin. Always be your best self and always do your best -that is the challenge that comes to you from God.

God alone is holy and we are prone, by human nature, to be unholy. To think that by ourselves we can be good enough for God is a total mistake. The Bible says that our very best cannot be compared to God.

That is the reason that Jesus Christ came into our world. Through His life, death and resurrection He has brought people back to God. People, through sin, have wandered from God. Isaiah said "All we like sheep have gone astray -we have turned everyone to his own way". We could not on our own make our way back to God. Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile people to God. That is what Jesus meant when He said "1 am the way, the truth and the life".

"Hallowed be Thy name" is an honest statement that only God is holy and that people need God's help if we are ever going to get right with God.

It is not a put-down on people to say that they are sinful. It is the opportunity that makes them eligible for God's help. After Isabel, many places were declared 'disaster areas' and rather than being a put-down it made people eligible for federal help. Being a sinner makes you eligible for God's assistance given through the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. People are sin-prone because we are human, but that makes us eligible to receive the forgiveness that is offered to us in Jesus Christ -God's salvation sent to us out of His love.

Only God is holy. We need God's help and that is what the Christian message is all about.

February 20, 2005

We are spending the months before summer studying the prayer that Christ taught the people of Israel to pray. This prayer contains great spiritual lessons for Christians today even though it preceded the message of the cross and the resurrection.

Last week we looked at the concept of God as being 'our Heavenly Father', and we concentrated on the family relationship that the believer bas with God. Today we are talking about the concept of Heaven.

Heaven is the scripturally promised blessing of eternal life that follows this life. To the early Christians it meant reunion with their Lord as well as release from all the evils in this world. Heaven is still the great expectation of the Christian faith, even though there is great misunderstanding about it. It is neither a rest borne nor an opportunity to gloat or brag. More on that later.

When we talk about 'our Father Who Art in Heaven' we often miss out on all the implications of that term. Think of Heaven as 'the place where God is' and then remember that God is also with us in the here and now. The life that is lived with God daily is the life that is already with Him in Heaven so that what comes after death is simply the continuance of our relationship with God now.

In other words the blessed life of the true Christian experience means that your life here in this world should be a 'Heavenly experience'. Too many people in this world are living in the hell of their own creation when they could be living in the blessedness of Heaven. Heaven is anywhere you are when you are in the presence of God, and in this world you should be in the presence of God because that is the partnership that God wants to have with you.

You don't have to die and go to the real Heaven to find God when you can start enjoying God's presence everyday in your life now.

Instead of thinking only of Heaven as what comes after this life, expand your thinking and realize that here in this life Heaven can start for you in your closeness to God. Living with God in the here and now is truly a heavenly experience. It is the greatest life that can ever be lived. It only gets better when we leave this world and go the true Heaven, but why wait until then to enjoy living with God when we can live with God right now.

Each Christian should live in a heavenly experience now. Wherever God is is Heaven so why not realize how blessed your life can be now and start realizing a new relationship with God who makes all of life a Heaven. Stop living in Hell and start living in Heaven. You do that though Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

February 13, 2005

We are beginning a new study of The Lord's Prayer for our messages for this winter and spring. There is great spiritual insight and understanding in this prayer.

We have to clearly understand its place in the Christian faith. Christ taught this prayer at the beginning of His ministry and He was teaching Jewish people what spiritual prayer was all about They had been exposed to religious and very hypocritical prayer by the religious teachers, who were more interested in form than in content.

Since this prayer came at the beginning of Christ's ministry it was strictly in the theology of ancient Israel. We shall see these things as we study this prayer each week. The post-resurrection theology of Christ gave new insights and understanding to the early church.

Before Jesus Christ came along the ancient world, even the Jews, never thought of God as being their father. Their ideas of their gods were rather strange. The gods of Greece and Rome, as elsewhere in the ancient world, were an immoral lot. They did all the things that people do and that's because these gods were created by people. They were figments of twisted minds. Their gods weren't their fathers for they were dictators, aloof, deities to be brought by bribes and other special favors.

Abraham gave us both monotheism (the belief in only one God) and the concept of a truly moral God who demanded righteousness from His people.

To that Jesus Christ added the concept of a family relationship between God and all His creation. God wants to have a father/son-daughter relationship with people. After all He created us to have fellowship with Himself and love is the foundation of that relationship. GOD LOVES PEOPLE. He doesn't hate them or ignore them. He is very personal with them. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 "For God so LOVED the world..."

That is why The Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father Who art in Heaven..."

Don't think of God as your judge, critic, dictator, or anything else less than a loving father. Matthew 7:11 says "If you being human know how to take care of your children, why is it so hard for you to believe that God will take care of His children?"

Human fathers often fail their children but God never will fail His children. He loves them, cares for them, and lives to help them. He is "your father who is in Heaven". Spend more time in fellowship with Him - talk to Him more often. He wants to hear from you.

February 6, 2005

I have some questions over which I want you to cogitate.

What is it that really worries you? What do you spend most of your time thinking about?

Your happiness and the secret of success is found in your thought processes. People who think doom and gloom will be unhappy people while positive people are going to enjoy life more. I guess a corollary question is - Are you really enjoying life?

It is grossly apparent today that 'religious people' are not very happy people. That is why so many 'religious people' are trying to kill other 'religious people'. Even here in America, they may not try to kin other religious people, they just criticize them and engage in other forms of destruction, such as the squabbles over doctrines and denominations.

The Christ consciousness makes the difference between 'being religious' and being spiritual.

What is the 'Christ consciousness'? It is the realization of your own personal walk with Jesus Christ and the awareness of how close He is to you each day. The God who came to us in Jesus Christ in human form is still ministering to us each day and His constant blessings are ours.

Each day practice this thought -Jesus Christ is with me in all that I do and is everywhere I go because He is my constant companion.

The disciples had spent three years with Christ, probably being away from Him very little, so after they had experienced His presence through His resurrection, they knew that every day He was still with them.

It should be the same for each Christian today. Forget all the negativity about how little you deserve such a blessing and think more about how Christ is your constant companion. Spend more time thinking about His presence. Pre-occupy yourself with the positive power of Christ energizing you and keeping you company. Get off the negativity and say with Paul "1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".

The more you think about living with Christ in the here and now, the more your life will turn to the positive power of His influence. Keep the Christ-consciousness foremost in your life. You too can do all things through Christ.

January 30, 2005

Every person, and certainly every Christian, should always be the very best person that he/she can be.

The great enemy of personal development is allowing yourself to lapse into anything less than your best.

When we look at fellow-workers or other people around us in life we often tend to accept their performance as being our standard. Nothing could be more self-destructive.

You are a very unique creation of God. There is no other person in the world exactly like you. You make a tragic mistake when you limply accept some other person as your role model Don't let others, no matter how close they are to you, determine the person you are going to be. You have a unique calling so why not fulfill it.

This is particularly true for every Christian since they have support that others may not have. The entire power of God is made available to you and you have the authority to use that power. This is clearly taught in the Bible.

Every Christian is under moral obligation to be the very best person that he/she can possibly be. We often make excuses for lapses by saying something like "I took all I could but then I blew my lid" or "I had to let my hair down", (whatever that may mean – some of us can't do it).

In 2005 determine that you will always be the very best person you can be. You don't have to do it on your own because the Holy Spirit will work within you to enable you. You don't have to live the Christian life in your own strength or energy.

Please remember that all human characteristics are self-adopted. There is no 'you' that is dictated for you by outside forces. You choose everyday the type person you will be.

Don't do anything unless you do it to your best ability. Be the person that God created you to be. That is the key to accomplishment and self esteem. Take pride in everything that you do and realize that it carries with it a part of you - it is your work. In the Christian life mediocrity is never acceptable -it is a contagious disease that debilitates and lessens you.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it as unto the Lord because you labor for God and not people." When you realize that you are God's employee, you take a different approach to your labors.

In 2005 - always be your very best self - be the best advertisement for God that you Can be. Rather than put you under strain, it will relax you and make life more enjoyable for you. Be the person God created you to be.

January 23, 2005

Part of the joy of the Christian faith is watching one's own personal spiritual growth. Many Christians are so preoccupied with their physical obligations that they over-look their spiritual opportunities. As pastor it has been my delight for years to watch various people develop their spiritual growth.

Your most basic relationships are those with your Lord. They are more foundational for happiness and success than any other involvement.

There are two reasons why more Christians do not grow. 1. They don't realize that they can. 2. They don’t make growth a priority.

Why should you live a frustrating life when you can live an exciting one? You don't have to settle for the mundane and uneventful when God really wants you to have an exciting time.

In Philippians 3 Paul says "I reach forward to the things that are ahead." Paul realized the great Christian truth that is there for us all - God has something better for you that you have yet received.

Your goals, dreams, and ambitions are the framework that God uses to bring blessings to you. It is not up to God what blessing you receive - it is up to you. A low expectancy leads to low blessings while a high expectancy leads to high blessings.

For the year 2005 make your expectations high and watch the blessings come. Claim the victory that is yours there in the Promised Land. You can claim high goals through faith.

The early Christians may have died through many things but they never died from boredom. Too many Christians resign themselves to boring and eventless living.

Negative feelings such as self-denigration, unworthiness, a lack of understanding about your place with God, and many other put-downs that we self-construct - all of these things are barriers to God so that the blessings can not flow.

Sit down this week some time and make a list of things that you would like to see happen in your life in 2005. Don't settle for small things but claim greater blessings from your Heavenly Father. This is what the Bible promises.

Don't be vague but rather be specific. Let God know exactly what you desire. Then claim these things through faith and watch God fulfill for you these high goals. Make 2005 a great year for you through God.

January 16, 2005

Growing spiritually is what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is not about being religious or being better than others. When a child is born and then is unable to grow or develop his/her potential we characterize that as a tragedy. How much greater a disappointment occurs when people begin the Christian life but then never grow spiritually. The Christian life is about far more than Heaven or Hell. It is about living and enjoying the abundant life that Christ has promised His followers.

My responsibility as your pastor is to help each person grow in God's grace and exhibit increasingly the blessings that God has for you. Remember that The Promised Land is not Heaven. The Promised Land is living here in this world enjoying each day your blessed relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and being ministered to by the presence of The Holy Spirit in your life. Heaven is the blessed experience that we await after we pass through that doorway we call death. Until then we can live each day in the Promised Land enjoying our new life in God.

Spiritual growth is a wonderful involvement offered to each Christian. We spend a great deal of time and money maintaining our physical bodies, but the benefits of that pale in comparison when we compare them to the benefits of the spirit. The spirit is life and the more alive you are spiritually the greater all of life will be for you, because your most basic needs are spiritual and not physical. Spiritual satisfaction brings a peace that can never be found through mere physical activities.

I have told you that spiritual growth never occurs by accident but is always the by-product of a deliberate quest. How then does it occur?

First of all it occurs through your mind and thinking more and more about God and your relationship with Him. No matter where you are or what you are doing realize that God (your partner in life) is right there with you. He is there to assist you and to enable you, so talk to Him - sometimes out loud and then sometimes in your mind.

Secondly, ask Him for guidance and direction but then be receptive and open to His inspiration. New ideas, understandings, and concepts will enter your mind from God.

Thirdly, realize who you are. Are you living up to the potential that God has placed within you? Are the things you are doing honoring or dishonoring God? The closer you are to God the more you will do those things that honor Him.

Like physical growth spiritual growth takes time, but it is the most worthwhile and enjoyable thing that you can do.

January 9, 2005

There is a great parallel between the entry into a new year and the spiritual growth of the people of Israel in the Old Testament.

Having been freed from slavery in Egypt, and having wandered aimlessly through the wilderness for forty years, they were looking for permanence and stability in a new land of their own.

One of the problems that they had was very debilitating to them. Even though they had lived in slavery in Egypt at least they had permanent homes there and plenty of food. They had gotten tired of wandering and living in tents, particularly since food was scarce. Many of the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, even as slaves. After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader, encouraging the people to go forward in faith.

These are good lessons for all of us in 2005.

Regardless of whether the past was good or bad it is a tragic mistake to live in the past. If the past was bad you do not have to keep reliving it over and over with regrets. If the past was good it is just as bad to want to relive it. There are two things that we do with the past - we learn from it and we leave it.

God has new blessings for you in the year 2005 and you can go forward to them in faith. Joshua challenged the people to live in faith and not fear, and that lesson applies to your entry into a new year.

Certainly there are always questions about the future and what a new year will bring. Yet when you live in the fear of the unknowable you open the door to increased anxiety which will destroy your God-given powers of energy and faith and make you long for the security of what 'used to be' even when that was less than what is best for you.

"God has something better for you than you have yet received" is a statement that has challenged people for years. That is the promise of the Scriptures. The Bible is full of such teachings.

The unknowability of the future is actually an opportunity for your faith to grow. You are not alone in life because your Loving Heavenly Father is there to guide you and to be your companion in all that you do. He is your source of hope, strength, and victory. Get out of bed each morning saying to yourself - "What new thing is God going to show me today". The life that opens the door of faith to that attitude will never be disappointed. You open the door and God will be there to fill your life with hope and happiness.

Enter 2005 with great confidence and hope. Claim your blessings through faith and they will be there.

January 2, 2005

It is my responsibility as your pastor to help you to reach levels of spiritual insight and understanding that you have not previously reached.

No two people are truly alike so no two Christians are at the same level of growth and development. Each person is different from others.

We make a serious mistake when we try to duplicate someone else's pattern of growth. Their program is not your program because God has a different plan for each person.

Stop trying to be like someone else and learn to be more like yourself - your very best self. Be the person that God has created you to be but be the very best possible. Never settle for being less.

You are your own master and it is your privilege to be the person that God has created you to be - fulfilling all the potential that He has put within you. Many Christians are miserable and live miserable lives because they realize that they are living below their God-created potential

2005 is the opportunity for you to be all you can be in and through God. This however will come about only as you make it your deliberate goal. It will never occur by accident.

You truly are a unique creation of God. There is not another person in the entire world that duplicates you. That makes you very special and very blessed. So what are you going to do about it? Let me make a few suggestions. First, stop living in the past and realize that 2005 is a great promised land of blessings for you. Yes, we all have great memories from the past but the future can have even greater blessings for you. Secondly, be determined that in 2005 you are going to be more the person that God has created you to be. All attitudes are adopted attitudes and you can change everything including your own personality. You can become the cheerful and optimistic person that you were created to be.

Thirdly, start acting like the person you want to be and you win become it. Don't be frustrated and melancholy because God has created you for better things. Act like you have been newly created by God and take a fresh start in life. Life is far too good to be lived in despair and disappointment. Finally, take God as your partner in life more than ever before. You two form an unbeatable combination. Let His power and wisdom flood your life and you will find greater happiness in all that you do and are.

December 26, 2004

The month of December has been devoted to a more complete understanding of who Jesus Christ was and is.

This is truly crucial. To take Christmas as anything less than a very vital part of God's plan of redemption is to not fully comprehend all that is yours in Christ.

Christmas is for you and the spiritual unfolding of all of your potential. It is God's way of letting you know that you are a very special part of God's world.

I Timothy 3:16 says very plainly "God was manifested in the flesh". The baby born to the Mary was God incarnate in a human form. Jesus Christ was not just 'another nice guy that the world mistreated', nor was He here as a religious reformer. God in human form came into our world to begin the plan of redemption and to offer to people the opportunity of living in harmony with God.

It is such a tragedy that so many people think that they can live better without God than they could with Him.

A close relationship with God is more vital to people than the air that they breathe. It is far easier to live with God than to live without Him. God is more vital to people than the oil in your automobile. Yes, you could run your car without oil but not for very long. Yes, you can live without God but why do it when He desires and offers to be your partner in life and to bring you to a level of living that can't be found anywhere else.

The baby born to Mary was God in human form to help people rise above all their problems. He lived a life of love and service. He died on the cross, rejected by the people He came to help. He rose from the grave to shout to the entire world that nothing can ever truly defeat God.

The whole drama of redemption - from the manger through the empty tomb -is God's way of telling you how important you are to God, how He wants to help you everyday, and how a partnership with Him is available to you.

Sometimes people like to brag about meeting some celebrity or national leader. How much better is it when the Divine Creator of the entire universe personally invites you to be His partner in life with the goal of making your life truly fulfilled and fulfilling?

All of this started with the birth of Christ and it is offered to you in this Christmas season. Like the Wise Men bow before Him in worship and acclaim Him as your partner in life.

December 19, 2004

As your pastor, you have heard me often make very critical comments about religion, but that is alright because the Bible is also very critical of religion. It was the religious leaders that gave Christ a hard time and caused Him to be crucified. Religion is manmade and rises from societal needs of certain times. Religion is people's attempt to find (or make) a god. Christianity is not a religion because it is God's attempt to help people. Spirituality is your own private relationship with God, the God who revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Religion and religious people know nothing about love. Look at what is going on in the Middle East today. Fanatic people live on hatred and not love. Religious people desire to kill others that disagree with them, even people of their own religion.

One of the problems of Christianity is that too often people make it into a religion and they act religiously. Think about all the Protestant - Catholic squabbles where each side has tried to kill the other believing that they were pleasing God by their actions. Denominations today may not try to kill other denominations (but is has been done in the past) they just hate each other.

When you look at the events of that first Christmas you must see the love of God flowing to people. God is not a God of hatred (as most religions teach) but a God that came into our world to save, lift, and help people.

How do you think God feels about you? Many sincere Christians still believe that God condemns them, disapproves of them, and does not love them. God's sole attitude toward you is the outflow of love to you. That doesn't mean that you are perfect or never do anything wrong. It means that He loves you and wants to help you find all the happiness and fulfillment that He created you to possess. He may not approve of something that yon are doing (or not doing) but He loves you because of all the potential that He has put within you.

The God who came to us in the baby born of Mary on Christmas day is a loving, caring, and constant friend. Forget all the foolishness of God hating some people. God is pure love and pure love can not hate anyone. "For God so loved the world (you) that He gave" (John 3:16). Christmas is God's way of saying to you "I love you".

This Christmas, more than ever before, in your own mind, kneel before the manger of Bethlehem, and accept anew all the love that He has for you. Thank Him for His love and let that love radiate through your life and all that you are.

December 5, 2004

As your pastor it is my desire to help you live the happiest and most productive life that you can live. I believe in the abundant life that Christ promised in John 10:10. I believe in living the greatest possible life that anyone can live and that life is centered in and around Jesus Christ as your power of living. That begins the moment one turns to God and it extends into eternity itself.

Since I emphasize life I don't preach worn-out theology. Don't expect sermons on theology from me, because I learned long ago that such sermons help no one.

The one exception I make to that role comes at Christmas time. Who Jesus Christ was and is is so important to your daily life that the message must be high-lighted.

Over the years some strange theologies and mis-understandings have centered around the person of our Lord. Some have suggested that Jesus Christ was just a nice man that the religious people rejected. Even to the point that it made God mad and that then God elevated (or adopted) Jesus as His Son.

Others say that it was too bad that Jesus only lived thirty-three years. Imagine what he could have done if he could have stayed around for sixty or eighty years. They compare Christ to other great leaders who were cut down before or even in their prime.

Of course there are those intellectually challenged people who say that the Bible is all myths and that Jesus Christ never really lived but that a new religion was invented just as the world invents religions. I have pointed out many times that religion is man-made and that they rise to meets the societal needs of that time.

These and similar ideas have appeared in the past and will continue to appear in the future, because people like to imagine that they can explain anything, particularly if it leaves out any reference to a divine Creator.

There is only one source book that we need - The Bible. That clearly reveals who Jesus Christ was and is and why He came into our world. I Timothy 3:16 makes it clear, as do other references from the Bible, "God was manifested in the flesh". When we understand that incarnation the entire message of Christmas takes a new meaning.

Invite others to come and hear these sermons. When you realize all the power of God entered into that body donated by the Virgin Mary, you realize how Christ could do such things as walk on water, heal the sick, and even revive the dead.