Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Once Upon a Duck

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt

One thing I've learned through this harsh winter in Chicago is perseverance. And I learned this just from watching some ducks outside my patio door. When the creek was frozen the ducks still stuck around, in hopes of the water unfreezing. As soon as there was a break in the ice and a thaw in place, these ducks couldn't wait to get into the water for a swim.
Swimming is what gives them great joy. And they just had to wait patiently for the right time to do this. But persevering they did!
Let's face it, whether you are a believer in Christ or a non-believer, we all hate waiting and yes, patience is a virtue.
But remember, "Your faith determines your outcome."
What I love so much about the Book of James in the Bible is it's simple, basic instructions for the believer.
So simple even a child can comprehend it. And sometimes children can comprehend it more than us adults; which is sad.
But don't just listen to God's Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
James 2:22
James points out to us that simply hearing the Word of God does not mean that we believe it. By acting on what we hear, we show that we truly believe.
Faith is an action word, those who claim to have faith because they hear and know the Word of God, yet do not practice it in their lives, have deceived hearts.
It's good to sometimes examine the areas in our own life where we claim to have faith. Do our actions prove our faith, or do they declare our unbelief?
Faith activates God; fear activates the enemy.
If you are waiting patiently for God to open a door or waiting for an answer from Him on a certain situation, sometimes just standing on His Word helps you persevere. Renew your mind with God's Word and what He says about your situation. Change your unbelief to belief and watch what God can do.
If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ignore the Chatter and Leave Your Mark

"Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?" Bob Marley

Iowa farmer Bud Skalla was satisfied with just being a farmer, he didn't care that the people in his small community considered him a tightwad or miser. Nor, did he care that they talked about him behind his back. I'm sure they now have a different perspective of the quiet man, as he left millions to his church.

When Bud passed away most recently, he left $2 million in cash assets, and 1,100 acres of farmland worth $10 million to his parish
 and other nearby community small churches. What a way to leave your mark in the face of those who talked behind your back!

I've recently been teaching on the Book of James on Sunday mornings at my church. As I prepared for a teaching on James 3 which deals with the untamable tongue, I was surprised at how many scriptures there are in the Bible that deal with gossip and how much God hates it.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.

10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:9-10)

King David dealt heavily with people gossiping about him as you will find within his writing of some of the Psalms. But David knew that His God was far greater than any evil spoken of him. David knew who his protector was.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalm 5:11-12)

It is most evident that none of those who were gossiping of David really knew him nor his relationship with God. David spent most nights talking and worshiping the Father. His love for God is also known throughout the Psalms.  More importantly, David knew
who he was in Christ.

There is an importance in knowing who you are in Christ; it's your identity that defines you amongst all the evil surrounding you.

Here are just a few of many scriptures found in the Bible on who you are in Christ, if you truly live for Him:

I am a new creation; the old has passed away. (2Cor. 5:17)

I am a new person created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24)

I live and move and have my being in Christ. (Acts 17:28)

Don't let others dicate who you are in Christ.

If you live in an area without access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Grandpa's Are Unique and Special

"It was pretty amazing I scored a goal the first time I touched the puck."

Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane actually went on to score 2 goals, just after hearing before the game that his grandfather had just passed away. Kane didn't mention anything to his teammates until after the game. Tears were streaming down his face as he spoke to reporters after the game, as he referred to his grandfather as his best buddy, one he counted on throughout his life.

As I watched the game and his emotional postgame remarks about his grandfather, it kind of struck a cord with myself  and the relationship I had with my grandfather. Take nothing away from fathers, but there is something important and special with grandfathers. They carry with them alot of wisdom, and I believe you learn more from them as a kid because the bond is different. There may be some things you don't feel comfortable talking to your father about, but grandfathers carry with them a different set of standards; higher standards because they are the patriarchs of an entire family, not just their own sons and daughters..

Iv'e probably blogged, taught, and preached more stories about my grandfather than of anyone else. He was not only a great preacher, but one who's relationship with Christ resembled that of King David, one who loved to worship the King of Kings.

 Having spent much of my childhood doing things with my grandfather (no fault on my father's part, he worked hard 6 days a week) I saw many miracles done through my grandfather, and I learned the importance of worshiping God with every fiber of your being.  That's how God gets things done for His glory, choosing the most humble of servants, who's only desire is to worship God and share His love with others.

One of many magazine articles written about my grandfather, told the story of how he reached a man who didn't want to be reached:

There was a woman at church who wanted one of the ministers to come to her home to speak to her atheist husband. But, she didn't want my grandfather to do it, she felt that sometimes he could be long-winded and hard-driven at times, and that would make her husband hate God even more. On a side note, I watched him minister to people but eloquently used special tactics according to that person's personality. In this case, my grandfather called the home and simply invited the man to go fishing with him. That fishing trip turned out to be just that, fishing. My grandfather didn't try to get him saved or throw any scripture verses his way, he just showed love upon the man.

A couple of weeks later, the man called the church and wanted to meet my grandfather there. My grandmother relays the story of how she walked into the church and saw the two men kneeling at the altar, my grandfather's arm around the man whose eyes were filled with tears. A month later this man passed away. But he didn't really pass away, he went on to spend eternity with the Risen King. The One who doesn't pass judgement on what men may have done in the past.

Love conquers all.

Love can reach more people than trumping them over-the-head with what the Bible says they shouldn't do.

If you are a grandfather, use your wisdom wisely, spend time with your grandkids, show them a love that only you can give them.
Their counting on you.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prep Time!

"I was drawn to tears when he spoke of his young daughter and what she has to battle through each day. It made me want to do more to fight this disease."

Boomer Esiason, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals in the mid to late 1980's, spoke these words while sitting at an awards banquet in his honor for being named the MVP of a season. A journalist was speaking of his own daughter and recruiting athletes to help fund a fight to cure cystic fibrosis.

Boomer stepped up to the plate by using his celebrity status, he began to help by doing commercials and started an awareness program for the disease.

Three years later, Boomer and his wife had their first child, and ironically their own son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Some people will say that this was just a coincidence, others may say it was fate or karma, I say God a hand in preparing him for this.

Your Heavenly Father knows well of what you need. (Mathew 6:25)

In other words, God knows well ahead of us what we need and prepares us for those battles that may be headed our way.

In the last 20 years, Boomer Esiason has created a foundation for cystic fibrosis, financed a treatment center for the children of this disease, and has literally raised $100 million dollars for cystic fibrosis.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

The lifespan for a child with this disease is not very long. The journalist, who first brought cystic fibrosis to the attention of Boomer Esiason, watched his daughter lose her battle at the age of six.

Boomer Esiason's son  is 25 years old, but still has his battles each day. The $100 million dollars that has been donated so far for this disease, has helped doctors prolong the life of children with cystic fibrosis.

Whatever trials or struggles you may be going through right now, may be just prep work that God uses for His glory. God will see you through the storm. And in being faithful to Him and His Word, He will prepare you ahead of time for all things. But never forget,
God is good, all the time.

"In order to realize the weight of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm." -Corrie Ten Boom

If you don't know Corrie's story, checkout the book The Hiding Place. She endured many hardships while being imprisoned for helping many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust. But God was beside her throughout her incredible journey.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway for more of God's encouraging Word.