Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do You Have Your Receipt?

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." - Psalm 100:4
This past week I pulled a jacket out of my closet that I had not worn in a while. I was in a hurry, so I threw it on and proceeded to leave the house. My day was packed full and I rushed out of the house without saying goodbye to my kids. As I got in the car, I reached in my jacket pockets for my keys and found two pieces of paper, both of which I thought were trash. One was a gum wrapper and the other was a receipt.
As I began to throw them both into a cup holder, I stopped and decided to look at the receipt. It was for a meal I had purchased for my daughter and myself on February 8, 2007 in Little Rock. Memories began to flood my mind about that particular season of my life. That was the day before my youngest daughter came home from the hospital. She was born with a heart condition and had to spend some time in the NICU at Baptist Hospital.
My wife was staying in the NICU with our daughter and my oldest daughter, who was three at the time, was staying with me in a camper on the backside of the hospital parking lot. I’ll never forget that night because after eating at the restaurant with my daughter, she became sick in that small camper. It was a long night and we both slept very little. When we finally went to sleep, we were awakened by a hospital helicopter that landed in the parking lot about forty yards from our camper. That happened three times that night. What a long night with a sick kid on the backside of a lonely parking lot. It had been a long couple of weeks. I lay awake praying for God to heal my daughter in NICU as well as the sick one lying on my chest.
My daughter finally came home the next day, which happened to be my birthday. What a great birthday present.
Ok, back to the present and my driveway. I was still staring at the receipt from almost two years ago. Tears welled up in my eyes as I began to thank God for all He had brought us through during those testing times. I had nearly forgotten about the goodness of God during days when it seemed like bad things were happening to my family. God is good.
Have you ever tried to exchange or return something without a receipt? It is nearly impossible. A receipt is proof of your transaction. It proves you truly received goods and services. My receipt reminded me of the goodness and mercy of Christ. I had received a so much and am extremely thankful and blessed.
Quickly, I stopped my car and went back inside the house and found my girls. The youngest was singing along with Dora the Explorer and the oldest was on the computer playing games. Kneeling down beside each of them, I said, "I love you." They said, "Love you too, Dad" and continued with their activities.
I went back to my car and proceeded to work. I turned up my stereo and began to sing a song on a CD I had recently gotten. The words said: "You make everything glorious. You make everything glorious. You make everything glorious. And I am yours."
He had truly made my daughter glorious. She gave Him glory. He had truly made our situation glorious. As He worked in our lives, we were amazed and gave Him glory. He was truly working on me in my driveway. I gave Him glory and told Him, "I am Yours."
I’m reminded of the scripture in Romans 8:28 that says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God was working on our behalf the whole time my daughter was in the hospital.
I think God saved this receipt for this particular day. He reminded me of His goodness, faithfulness and steadfastness. I pray I never forget the times He has brought me through. May those times strengthen my faith for present and future challenges.
Psalm 121:1-2 says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." That morning I had my eyes fixed on a busy day. After encountering the Lord in my driveway, I lifted my eyes and fixed them on the Lord. He is my ever present help. My help alone comes from Him.
What about you? Where are your eyes fixed? I pray they are fixed on Christ and that you never forget His faithfulness. Do not forget the evidence of Christ’s work in your life. Do you have your receipt? I still have mine in my pocket.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Give Thanks To The Lord

Give Thanks to the Lord

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” - Psalm 100:4

The signs of the Christmas season seem to come earlier every year. Christmas decorations were already out at Halloween this year! While Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, we can very easily forget Thanksgiving if we are not careful. The Bible says that whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God. (Colossians 3:17) We should have an attitude of gratitude: a personal quality that molds us and shapes our lives – not just something we do or say. One way is to remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

During the winter of 1610, the settlers of Jamestown were reduced from 409 to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620 and were at sea nearly two months. When they arrived at Plymouth Rock, they had a prayer service and thanked God for being with them during their journey. Nearly half of them died as they struggled to build shelters and survive the cold New England winter. When spring came, Indian friends assisted them in reaping a great harvest. Because the Pilgrims were thankful, they declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God.Thanksgiving was originally established as a Christian holiday by President George Washington in 1789. Because Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated consistently, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November 1863 for a day of gratitude. He declared: “We are prone to forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”

Presidents continued to annually declare a national Thanksgiving Day until 1941 when Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.Of course, Thanksgiving is also about gathering with friends and family and having a feast. Some will watch football and parades while others enjoy time off from work and school. But sometimes at this particular time of year, we can forget about how thankful we ought to be. We need to never forget that God has blessed us. After all, God sent His son Jesus to be our Savior! (1 Corinthians 15:57) The Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. We are told in Psalm 106:1, "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Several things happened this year that could make Thanksgiving tough for you. Maybe you didn’t agree with the presidential election or lost investments in our economic troubles. I’m sure everyone, regardless of your opinion on the war in Iraq, has been saddened by the loss and hurt of our soldiers. Some people have lost their jobs and even their homes. Maybe you lost a loved one and this is the first Thanksgiving without them.

Thanksgiving should be about God, not our circumstances. It’s easy to give thanks in good times, but what about the bad? Instead of giving thanks for our circumstances, maybe we should give thanks to God for being with us in the middle of our circumstances. Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice, because we are down or depressed or things aren't going all that well for us. Maybe hardship or tragedy has hit your life in some way and giving thanks may seem tough. The Bible doesn't say, "Give thanks to the Lord, because you feel good." It says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!"

What are you thankful for? Do you have an attitude of gratitude? A better question is to whom are you giving thanks? In the busyness of your Thanksgiving holiday, don’t forget the source of your blessings. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reassignment, Not Retirement

"Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said." —Joshua 14:12

You know you are getting old when everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work. Another sign is the gleam in your eye is just the sun reflecting off your trifocals. You might even notice the years adding up if you get winded playing chess or if you sink your teeth into a nice juicy steak and they stay there. In fact, I've heard that there are four ages of man: 1) when you believe in Santa Claus, 2) when you don't believe in Santa Claus, 3) when you are Santa Claus, 4) when you look like Santa Claus.

All kidding aside, God has a great plan for you in your later years of life. Do you recognize these names: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel? Of course not. Why? No one remembers those who give up in life. These were the ten men who didn't have faith in God when the twelve spies were sent into the Promiseland. You'll recognize Joshua and Caleb as the spies who believed in and served God. Lets look at the end of Caleb's life.

In Joshua 14, Caleb is eighty-five years old. He still feels as strong as he was when he was forty. He makes a statement in verse 12 that reflects his desire to serve God wholeheartedly in his old age. He says, "Give me this mountain." Caleb wasn't afraid. He had no thought of retirement. He wasn't headed for Leisure World or RV Town. There was still an unfinished task ahead. Caleb had to inherit the land God had promised him in his youth.

When Caleb was forty, he and Joshua along with ten others were sent as spies into the Promiseland. When they returned, they were the only ones who reported victory and certainty. They trusted God to give them victory. Why would God break His promise to them? The land was promised, thus the name "Promiseland." Everyone else was scared to death of the "giants" in the land.

What kept Caleb living for the Lord those forty-five years? God's integrity. Caleb wholeheartedly believed God's word. Was there ever a reason to give up? Caleb and Joshua both came back and were equally certain of God's promises. We see in Numbers 13:30 it was Caleb who took the lead in trying to convince Israel to go and conquer. Yet, when God chose a leader to invade Canaan thirty-eight years later He chose Joshua. Caleb would have been a fine leader. But there is no record of Scripture of any friction between these two men. Caleb accepted his behind the scenes role and followed. You cannot be a leader in you’re not willing to be a follower. I don’t know why God chose Joshua over Caleb. I imagine that Caleb wondered about that too, but he didn’t make the mistake of growing bitter about the choices of God. Caleb continued to follow God all his life.

Why would Caleb want the hill country? After all, that was the land the giants inhabited years earlier that struck fear in the hearts of the other spies. Caleb refused to suffer from the "Grasshopper Complex," - magnifying the adversary, minimize God. Caleb didn’t minimize the difficulties, he magnified his God.

In Joshua 15:13-17, Caleb did what most did not do. While others compromised and allowed the "giants" to stay, Caleb drove out the Canaanites and inherited the land promised to him. The man with the most difficult inheritance to claim was the one who totally claimed it - all at the age of eighty-five.

There is no retirement from the Christian life or the spiritual battle. In fact, retirement is never mentioned in the Bible. You see the men of God serving Him and working hard until the day they died. God may give us the privilege, like Caleb, of living to be eighty-five or more. Or He may not. We should want the same zeal as Caleb, the zeal to get up every morning and say, "What's ahead? I am available. I am ready. Give me this mountain." That is the way we should live each and every day—not living in the past, not looking over our shoulders at the good old days, but instead looking ahead to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Caleb asked for a treacherous area known as Hebron. He wasn't looking for retirement. He wanted reassignment. He said, "I like this spot right here. It's treacherous. It's rugged. It has formidable foes. This is my kind of place. Give me this mountain. I'm ready." He never forgot it. And Moses promised it to him. But Hebron was also known for something else. It was known as the place where God spoke to Abraham face-to-face and gave him the promise of the land in the first place. The very name of Hebron means fellowship, love, and communion. This is the place Caleb longed for and received.

What mountain has been promised to you? What obstacles stand in the way of obtaining it? What has caused you to give up? While others were looking back, Caleb was looking forward. And that is an essential key to spiritual longevity: you need to always be moving forward, always seeking to grow spiritually—and never looking back.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fall Festival

Our annual Fall Festival Halloween alternative was a huge success this year. It was our biggest crowd yet with estimates of over 3,000 people in attendance! We gave away 2,500 hot dogs, 750 bags of candy, hundreds of temporary tattoos, parked hundreds of cars and popped of popcorn and cotton candy. From those playing Bouncy Boxing to kids taking costume pictures, there were lots of new faces in the crowd and I had a blast getting everything ready to serve all those people. Over 250 people in our church served last night. I met one family in a store that day as they were preparing for a Halloween party for themselves. They were purchasing some things and I told them about our alternative. They put their things back and said they would see us that night. I saw them and they had a great time. They said they would see me at church Sunday as well. Last year, we met a new family and now he leads one of our AWANA game times and she is one of our church secretaries.

While events like these require a great deal of planning, preparation, people and time, they are great to reach people and connect them with the church. Not our building, but the church - people who live for Christ. It wasn't about pony rides, cotton candy and inflatable games, although they were fun. The Segways were great, but it was about loving on people. I pray no one who served that night missed out on that truth.

I loved seeing all those kids having a great, safe time at a place filled with loving people representing Christ and our church. Our church did wonderful. They loved on people, stayed late to clean up, and did whatever it took to make it a great night for our community. Thanks to everyone who served and thanks to those who had a great time. I can't wait to make it bigger and better next year to reach more people. It was great to have a place that gave a positive, Christian alternative and reclaim this day meant for fright and fear for the Lord. To be honest, this is the first year I didn't think about fear, haunted houses or anything that represented evil. My thoughts were on making last night full of Christ. I pray we displayed Christ and made connections with them and our church.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Righteousness Exalts A Nation

“Righteousness exalts a nation…” (Proverbs 14:34).

While America was founded upon Christian values and Biblical principles, we have slowly become unfaithful to God. You can plainly see it in things like removing prayer from schools and the Ten Commandments being stripped from the courts that were founded on them. When political correctness becomes more important than the life of the unborn, you know we’re in trouble. Unfaithfulness to God has become evident in the chambers of our lawmakers as well. Our nation has been unfaithful to the God whose name is chiseled on our monuments and engraved on our currency.

The Bible says "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan." (Proverbs 29:2). I know you have heard them. People are groaning everywhere these days. From the restructuring the troubles of our battered economy to the urgent need for tax reform in our government, people desire change. But how does true change come? What can build up our nation? Do we want America to benefit from practicing Christ-like righteousness or be further disgraced by sinful practices and politicians? The Bible says in Proverbs 14:34 that “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Sin has brought us to the current state of our country. Whether it’s greed on Wall Street or laziness on Main Street, our governmental structures as a whole aren’t built on the principles of God any longer.

Righteousness must be the standard by which we build our nation. Christians cannot simply vote the economy on Tuesday and hope for Godly change on Sunday. For Christians, there is no such thing as a “church life” and a “political life”. They are one and must be governed by righteousness. Christians must vote righteousness and even run for offices in which they desire Christ-like change and integrity. Righteousness simply means to be in right standing with God. It means you are honoring Him and following His ways. Christians must always side with Biblical standards and never compromise.

The Reverend Charles Finney said, "The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them... Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently... God will bless or curse this nation, according to the course Christians take."

President James A. Garfield said, “The people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities... If the next century does not find us a great nation... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."

If Christians desire for America to once again be shaped and governed by righteousness, now is the time to step up. While we must pray and seek the Lord in private about the state of our nation, we must publicly take action if we desire true change. Christians must stand up for righteousness, not political correctness. Biblical principles must fashion our political agendas, not political parties, affiliations, or economy.

Minister and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass said, “I have one great political idea... The best expression of it I have found in the Bible. It is in substance of scripture, 'Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people'. This constitutes my politics -- the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics."

If you truly want true change then stand for righteousness. God’s Word promises that righteousness will exalt our nation, but only if Christians take a stand. Biblical principles are a must for change we can believe in. If we really want to put our country first, then God must be truly first. Vote Righteousness.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How Embarrasing

Well...what happened to me tonight would be in the top of my most embarrassing moments. Kylee and I left church tonight after locking up. We pulled out of the church driveway and Kylee started yelling for help. She is learning to buckle her own seat belt and was having trouble since the buckle was covered up by a compound miter saw I had in my backseat. I know I shouldn't have, but I turned around while driving and tried to help her. I knew I was in trouble when the altitude changed. My car left the Highway in front of the church and, of all places, I got stuck in the ditch of the church. No one was hurt, but I didn't know what I was going to do. I was so embarrassed. I thought I'd just call a tow truck since everyone had left church, but little did I know there were good Samaritans left at the church building. There to rescue me were a group of loving souls, led by our fearless youth pastor. Embarrassed, I stumbled around trying to explain what happened. They thought I had blacked out. One of them asked me to take a sobriety test. Pastor Ken pulled up and all he did was hand me an AOL (Acts Of Love) card. We use these in our church when we help people in need. Its an invitation to church as well. I humbly and sheepishly accepted. We hooked up my car with a tow chain that Pastor Ken had (I am impressed and thankful he carries those kind of things around). Kylee and I got out safe and sound. I'll never hear the end of this one at church. Kylee was very encouraging as she laughed and said Pastor Ken saved the day. Here's to you Pastor Ken!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What a Week

Kylee, my 4 year old, told me the funniest thing this past week. She has some new vitamins and they have Looney Tunes characters on them. We came across one she didn't know - Tasmanian Devil. She asked, "who is that?" I said, "The Tasmanian Devil or Taz." She said she was afraid of the devil. I laughed and said that Taz wasn't the devil, just a cartoon character. I told her the devil is real though but you didn't have to be afraid, only resist the devil and he will flee. She said, "what is resist?" I said it was to tell him "no". She said "what is flee? Is it like a collar for the cat?" Again I laughed and said, no it meant that he would run away from you. She was so excited that you could tell the devil no in Jesus name or quote scripture at him and the devil would run away. She then added, like only a 4 year old imagination could, that she knew the devil's mama and that she could tell on him as well. I didn't ask who the devil's mama was in fear it might be someone I know. hahahaha

This past week has been busy but good. We took some inflatable games to help raise money for one of the local schools (Redfield) last Friday night. I met several families and had some good conversations about the church with them. Saturday, about of us went to help clear some trees and debris off of a church member's house and land from a previous storm. What a great time of fellowship and being the church!

Saturday night church was great. Kids church was great that night as Haley and I led. Sunday night Life Group was great as well. We had a great discussion on the message and how we could be used for the Lord and His Holy Spirit wanted to empower us to do great things for the Kingdom.

Monday, Haley and I tried to take the girls to the pumpkin patch in Grady, but they were closed. Instead, we went to the park and had a great time. I had the privilege to speak to the ladies at the Hope Resource Center in Pine Bluff about the Lord on Wednesday and several of them signed up for things at the church like our Great Expectations program for expecting parents and Single Parent's ministry and Angelfood Ministry. Hope ministers to ladies who are pregnant, think they might be pregnant or have small children. They supply lots of services and Biblical counseling to ladies in need. The ladies that day earned 5 credits towards things like diapers, baby clothing, etc. Hope served us breakfast Thursday morning for Pastor appreciation month.

Wednesday AWANA went well. We had nearly 140 kids age 3-6th grade and saw a couple of kids give their lives to Christ. Thursday night concluded my class on "How To Share Your Faith". I saw several people become bold and confident in sharing their faith with someone they know and a couple of people were saved as a result of the classes. Tonight, we are having a worship service/brainstorming meeting for those age 18 through their 20's. We want to reach that age group for Christ and tonight we hope to develop even more of a core group to do that.

God is good. I was able to lead a lady to the Lord this past week. I have really been trying to talk to more people about their relationship with the Lord wherever I am - especially out in the community.

Fall Festival, formerly known as "Holyween" is next Friday night from 6-9 pm. We'll have pony rides, inflatable games, Segways, hayrides, free food (hot dogs, drinks, popcorn, cotton candy, etc). Angel Food distribution is this Saturday from 10-noon. Our Marriage Conference is this Sunday night at 6pm and is open to all married or engaged couples.

Lord, keep me humble so you can continue to use me for your service. If I ever think its about me, set me straight. Let all praise and glory go to Jesus Christ as we reach people for your Kingdom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God Is Love

"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' " - Matthew 19:26

There is a story of an older gentleman who spent a lot of time visiting very sick people in the hospital. As a gift, he would give each person a small, embroidered bookmark. On the back of each bookmark was a group of tangled threads with no apparent pattern. When he would visit with those who were sick, he would hand them the bookmark with the back facing up exposing the tangled mess of string. Then, he would look at those who were sick or hurt and say, "Look at the bookmark and tell me what it says."As they searched for meaning in the tangled threads, they would look back in confusion at the man and say, "I have no idea what it says. It doesn't seem to say anything. It’s just a tangled mess. I do no understand."With compassion in his voice he would say, "Now, turn it over and read the other side." As they would flip that bookmark over, they saw the words, "God is love." The older gentleman would then say, "Many times when we look at life and question our circumstance and what God is doing, we just see tangled threads with no rhyme or reason. But from God's perspective, He has a plan. He is love and His plan is certain inside our difficulty. He is dealing with us in love, and He knows what He is doing." Sometimes we focus too long on the wrong side of the bookmark.The next time you think it is all over for you, just remember how things turned out for Joseph when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. Just remember how things turned out for Daniel as he was thrown into the lion’s den. No doubt things looked pretty dim for them. It probably seemed hopeless as well for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Can you imagine how grim things appeared for Peter when he was in prison? And things looked bleak for Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. For those standing at the foot of the cross, the world seemed to end as Jesus hung dying.

But God is sovereign, which means He is in control. He is always at work, even in the midst of trouble. He will not abandon you. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” David said in Psalm 37:25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” I wonder if he was thinking about the time God was with him as he fought Goliath. Maybe he was recalling the times God protected him as he feared Saul was going to kill him. Maybe he remembered how God forgave him and still used him after his affair with Bathsheba. Whatever the case, David knew God was good and never left those who followed Him.You see, things can look bad at one moment, but then God will step in and turn events around. Then suddenly you'll look back and say, "Now I understand what God was doing." Maybe your situation seems tough hopeless. You may have been staring at the tangled mess you have been in for a long time. Maybe you have given up.

The Bible says in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” I encourage you to call out to Him and allow His love to weave purpose and hope in your life. If all you can see is a tangled mess, turn your life over to Christ and see things from His perspective. He loves you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

7 Biblical Principles of Money

In the midst of economic crisis, there have to be definitive answers. No one is going to bail you out of your economic troubles. Our recent economic woes have shouted loudly that biblical principles should apply to individuals, families, Wall Street firms, and even governments. What can you do to survive the economic crisis upon us?

#1 God Owns Everything (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

Remembering that God created and owns everything will keep your finances in perspective. According to 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, everything in heaven and on earth is His, including wealth. Ask yourself, “Am I taking care of what God has given me?” The statement, “You can’t take it with you” is true. We leave it all behind because it never really was ours. God allows us to be stewards over what we have so we can use it for Him.

#2 Develop a Budget (Proverbs 16:3)

You can’t change the price of gas but you can change your spending habits. Learn to live within your means. To do this, you have to establish a budget. Luke 15:8-10 tells of the woman who lost a day’s wages and painstakingly searched until she recovered it. She understood the value of her earnings. Like the widow, you must do whatever you can to recover and wisely spend your daily income. If you are spending more than you make, you are destined for financial failure. Proverbs 16:3 says to commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.

#3 Save and Give (Proverbs 3:9)

Giving money away may not seem to make sense if you want gain in your finances. God’s plan for financial blessings is honoring Him with the first part of your income (Proverbs 3:9). The first thing you should do with your finances is pay God (tithing) and pay yourself (saving). Put aside money for tough times, unexpected breakdowns, and future investments.

#4 – Get Out of Debt ASAP! (Proverbs 22:7)

Proverbs 22:7 says the borrower is enslaved to the lender. How true! For example, if you borrow $100 on your credit card and make only minimum payments, do you know how long it will take to repay the loan? Would you believe up to thirty years? Items charged on your MasterCard can cost you seven to eight times the purchase price! The first step to getting out of debt is stop using credit cards. Next, start paying down your debt.

#5 – Avoid Indulgence and Hasty Decisions (Proverbs 21:5)

Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Do the math: if you spend less, you’ll have more. Believe it or not, our lives are surrounded by luxuries we swear are essentials. Luxuries like cable TV, brand names, internet, and eating out should be some of the first things to go if you can’t afford groceries and gas. Don’t purchases items you don’t need! Pray about major purchases before jumping in over your head. Save up for things and pay cash. What’s better: the constant stress of being indebted to stuff or enjoying financial freedom with less stuff?

#6 – Establish Goals (Habakkuk 2:2)

Have a vision for your finances. Set a time period for paying things off like your house and cars. Simply paying a little extra each month can cut years off your debt. How much do you need to save for your kids’ college expenses? How much do you need for retirement? What about planning and saving for the next vacation instead of charging the whole thing? If you set reasonable goals, you’ll reach them.

#7 – Learn Contentment (Philippians 4:11)

Paul writes in the book of Philippians that he has learned to be content in all areas of life. If you feel as though you have to keep up with neighbors’ purchases, you’ll never be content. Saying the words, “I don’t need it”, can bring you great freedom. Remember that things are meant to serve you, not the other way around. Learn to be content with what you have. You’ll never be satisfied with obtaining more because possessions cannot satisfy you. Contentment and peace are achieved only through a relationship with Christ.

Set some Biblical principles today in your finances and allow God bring you true financial peace.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Snare of Sin

Saturday, I spotted a something out of the ordinary on my neighbor's property.  A deer that had its back leg caught on the top of a chain link fence.  From the appearance of it, she had been caught for awhile and looked dead.  My neighbor is in her late 80's and so I knocked on her door to let her know that I was going to remove the dead deer before it started stinking.  I grabbed some rope and tin snips and proceeded with plans to free the dead deer and bury it with a backhoe in the adjacent field.  

When I poked the deer with a stick, SHE MOVED!  I thought it was a reflex, but she was still alive!  I cut her leg free, hoping she would run away ( I backed up a good distance because I've seen too many "when animals attack" videos).  She didn't move.  I tried several times to get her to move, but she refused.  Thinking she was just tired from her struggle,  I decided to leave her in hopes she would rest and later run away.  She never moved and eventually died.  

I thought about how that deer, who once was free, died from getting such a small part of her body entangled.  If I had been there sooner, maybe she could have recovered and gone free, but who knows.  

That's how sin snares us.  It could be a "small" sin that affects (we may think) only a small part of us.  The truth is that it affects our whole person and eventually leads to spiritual death.  The Bible says "By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. Proverbs 29:6"  Sin ensnares our whole lives.  Like the deer, I know some who have struggled for a long time on their own hoping to break free from the power of sin.  They need someone to cut them free.  They need a Savior.  

There is no small sin.  Sin is sin.  It doesn't just affect a small part of us, but all of us.  Sin affects our eternity!  Left unconfessed and unchallenged, it leads to eternal separation from God.

A liberating verse is Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  It was too late for the deer, but never too late for us.  Some stop at the first part of that verse thinking they are too far gone for God to rescue.  But the last part of the verse frees us from sin's enslavement.  Jesus' sacrifice frees even the worst of sinners.  In fact, we all have sinned and need a Savior.  (Romans 3:23)  

If you are entangled in sin and think you have no hope of escape, I pray you'll let Christ set you free from the sin that has ensnared you.  I pray you'll give your life to Christ and accept God's free gift of eternal life in Jesus our Lord.  Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrated His love for us in this way: while were were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Golf Tournament Was Great

Saturday, we had the Family Church Men's 4-man scramble golf tournament at Pine Bluff Country Club. It was a benefit tournament to help kids go to Camp Dry Gulch this next summer. We raised about $3,500 which will send about 16 kids to camp! We'll do something else this spring and hope to pay for about 30 kids to go to camp who cannot afford to go. We hope to take about 70 kids this summer.

My team didn't come in last place, thanks to some very gracious players (notice I didn't say graceful). Special awards were given out - THE GOLDEN SHOVEL (for most shots in sand), THE GOLDEN DIPNET - (for most shots in the water), and THE GOLDEN SAW (for most shots in the woods). Last place received a bobble headed trophy along with king size Snickers (they got Snickers because everyone else had had plenty of "snickers" all day long watching them play. Luckily, I took my team out of the winnings or we'd have racked up on the prizes!

On hole 15, we faced our biggest obstacle - a king snake. After prolonging a restroom break, I headed to the woods and there discovered a 4 ft snake about 4 ft from me! Thanks to my team (who resembled 5 year old kids when in contact with a snake) I was saved.

What a great time with the men of our church! We raised a lot of money too for kids!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Spiritual Life

Do you think anyone ever asked the question to Jesus: "how is your spiritual life going? Are you spending time with God? Have you had your quiet time today?" Probably not.

Jesus understood that every part of his life was spiritual, not just sections of it. He, like others in the early Christian church as well as the Jewish people, understood that everything was spiritual. In fact, there is no Hebrew word for "spiritual". It was a foreign concept. If you defined something as "spiritual" then that would mean that other things would not be. It implied there was an nonspiritual part of life. They believed it was all or nothing.

Early Christians knew that all of life was spiritual - either all spiritually good or all spiritually bad. Either connected as a whole to Christ or not at all. There were not certain areas that were reserved for God and others for the world. That means you can't say, "God, you can have my heart, but not my finances. You can have my vocabulary, but not my thought life. You can have me on Sunday, but the rest of the week is mine."

There wasn't a difference between church life and other life. After all, you ARE the church. There wasn't a quiet time. It all was to be God's time. There wasn't a prayer time. It was an all day conversation. A good friend once told me that he didn't say "amen" in his prayers until he went to bed at night as a reminder that all day was to be a constant contact with Jesus.

How is your spiritual life? Maybe the question should be, "is your life spiritual or not?"

"And whatever you do, whether by speech or action, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

First Night of Awana

We kicked off AWANA this week instead of last because we had no power. 126 kids the first night!!! The best is ahead of us.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Passion 08

Here are some pictures from our Easter drama this past year. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Facing The Music

"That to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess."
—Isaiah 45:23

The term "face the music" originated long ago in Japan with the Imperial Orchestra. It was very prestigious to belong to this particular orchestra, and there was a certain man who desperately wanted to join. He wanted to play for the emperor, but had no musical talent. This man happened to be very wealthy, so he offered the conductor a large amount of money if he would allow him to join the prominent orchestra.

The conductor accepted the man's offer and gave him a flute. He told him that when the orchestra played, he was to simply hold the flute to his lips and move his fingers so he would convince people that he was playing. So the man became a member of the Imperial Orchestra. He pretended to play his flute, everyone thought he was a great musician, and his dream of performing before the emperor had been fulfilled.

But one day, a new conductor took over. He wanted to find out how good the musicians were, so he announced he would be auditioning every musician in the Imperial Orchestra. The man was terrified, because he could not play a single note. His pretending had caught up with him, and he was forced to admit he was a fake. He couldn't "face the music."

A day will come when we will stand before God himself. And though certain people may have done a brilliant job of fooling other people, they will have to face the music. If they are not the real thing, it will show.
It’s one thing to fake it at playing the flute and quite another to fake your relationship with Jesus Christ. The great news is that Jesus already knows your life’s condition. To some that may not be good news, but that’s because of your perception of Jesus. He is not this mean guy in the sky ready to bring wrath upon you the first time you do something wrong. He’s not out to get you. In fact, the Bible says He loves you.
John 3:16-17 says this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus purpose is not to condemn you. His purpose is to liberate you!
A good dad loves his kids regardless of what they have done. He may not approve of their wrongdoings and even has warned them about it previously, but a father forgives the children and receives them into his arms with love.
Jesus wants you to be real with Him. What bondage it is to try and keep up a false identity. Holding up a mask and performing is tough work. Be upfront. Trust me, He’ll still love you. Ask God to forgive you if you’ve been faking it. Be real with Him. You may say, “But if He really knew what was going on in my life or what I’ve done…” The irony is that we try and hide it, but He already knows and still desires a relationship with you.
Jesus was real with you and I when he gave all His live on the cross. He didn’t hide or fake anything. He willingly gave it all despite the humiliation or shame He received.
What about you? How will you play? Perhaps you think you can fool other people, and maybe you can. But you cannot fool God. Be real with God and watch your life flourish.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Say, “Ahhh.”

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.
—Psalm 141:3

A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, "Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that's how we sell them!"
"You mean," she persisted, "that after all the years I've shopped here, you won't sell me half-a-head of lettuce?"
"Look," he said, "If you like I'll ask the manager."
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. "You won't believe this, but there's a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce."
He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. "And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half" he concluded.
Have you ever noticed that God gave us one mouth and two ears? Do you think there is a reason for that? Maybe God wants us to listen more and to speak less. Have you ever wished you could take something back you said? Words can bring life or words can bring death. Just think of how often we jump to conclusions or pass judgment in a situation. The Bible says, "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him" (Proverbs 18:13). That means, we should get the facts before we say and do things we could regret. Nevertheless, we hear something and immediately conclude that a person is as guilty as sin—and there is no explanation that can help, even if it is theirs. What you should do is go to that person before you believe the words against them and get the facts from them.

In the old days when you would go to a doctor, he would ask you to stick out your tongue. Then the doctor would pull out his depressor and tell you to say, "Ahhh." Why did doctors do that? Because the tongue can be an indicator of what was going on inside of you. By observing your tongue, a doctor could tell what was wrong with the rest of you. In a sense our tongue or our words are the table of contents to our lives. What we say gives away who or what we really are. That means, if all that comes out of your mouth is negative words, you more than likely have a negative spirit deep inside you. If you are quick to repeat gossip before checking your facts, then you need a heart check.
Maybe its lying that gets you in trouble. Regardless, your words are powerful and can hurt others and your reputation.

In Psalm 141:3, David is saying, "Lord, set a watch over my mouth. I can't stop other people from speaking evil about me, but I will not do the same to them. I will not be guilty of it, Lord. But I need your help. I can't do this in my own strength." David was literally asking the Lord to put a lock on his mouth. What comes out of your mouth is an indicator of what is inside your heart. Don’t be someone who is quick to spread gossip or give into lying. Don’t let anger take hold of your life to where you have to “tell someone off” or speak negatively of someone to get back at them. Follow the lead of David. Pray that the Lord will set a guard over your mouth and keep a watch over the door of your lips. Ask yourself, “Who can I bless today with my words? Who needs to be uplifted and encouraged today with the love of Christ?”

Pray this, “Lord, help me to be a person who chooses words of life. Set a guard over my mouth and cleanse my heart from any evil. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

VBS Going Great

VBS is going great this year. 22 kids made decisions for Christ Sunday night and 11 more on Monday morning. After 3 days, over 225 kids have come to VBS! The kids are reaching out to their friends and what a blast its been.

We're doing "The Ultimate Adventure" in the elementary. Its based on Psalm 27 and we're taking bible stories like Jonah, Daniel, Saul's Conversion, Zacchaeus, and Elijah and the prophets of Baal and showing kids how they can have an ultimate adventure with Christ. We based the decorations/theme after the Indiana Jones movies. We have a huge rock cave on the stage we made out of styrofoam, a Jeep Wrangler and a Jungle backdrop. The dramas are centered around lead character Arkansas Jefferson (cheesy spinoff).

Water games, pony rides, inflatable games, super soakers, tshirt cannons, water balloon launchers, team cheers, crazy college-age camera man, sword swallowing (a first for me), 3 ft ice cream cone, team competitions, 4ft beach balls, Planetshakers music, Youth praise team, toilet paper launchers, crazy hat competitions, dunking booth, super hero day, pizza party, and who knows what Thursday and Friday will bring!!!

If all we ever do is challenge boys and girls to "sit down and be quiet" in church, that's what they will grow up and do - sit down and be quiet. We don't need anymore pew sitters. We need world changers. I've got a time where kids just "jump around" to the song "Jump Around" by Planetshakers. We got some mini trampolines on the stage and remixed the song. When the music comes on - the kids come alive! Now, they also are on the edge of their seats and watching during the illustrated sermons with the illusions and weird props. They are grasping they can search for God and find Him. They can ask God for help and he will give them peace and confidence. God is moving boys and girls closer to him. Tomorrow, I'm doing an altar call for those who feel called to ministry. I pray lots of boys and girls allow God to call them to fulltime ministry at an early age. Help us to train them, Lord and start new churches.

I was soaked today in my Super Bro. Stephen Costume (Its a superman constume with the word "Bro." taped on it - Super Bro. S. I think the teenage boys purposely made me look like I used the restroom on myself. Dunking booth for them tomorrow!

I've met a lot of new kids this week and I hope we can reach those not in a church anywhere. I've been talking to a lot of parents at dropoff/pickup time about church - it helps when the kids say "i love this church". I'm just glad we have a church that loves kids. And boy do they stink after the water games!!!

I pray the parent's night at 6pm goes great and we have another packed house. The kickoff night was great and packed! Geddy the Gecko ( was there. He was totally awesome! Very biblical and entertaining at the same time. The kids love him and so did the adults! God bless John and Mary Mallory as they travel across the country reaching families for Christ.

Give us more kids. Give us more families. More salvations. More kids following Christ! We want fruit that remains.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Always Thinking

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." —Isaiah 41:10

There’s a story about a man who was visiting relatives on a farm. When the farmer whistled, his dog herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. "Wow, that’s some dog. What’s her name?" The forgetful farmer thought a minute, then asked, "What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?" "A rose?" "That’s it!" The farmer turned to his wife. "Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?"

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget important things. If it were not for my organizer, calendar and sticky notes, I’d forget everything. My wife is great about remembering birthdays, anniversaries and important occasions. Have you ever had someone forget an important occasion? Maybe your spouse forgot your anniversary or your birthday. Or maybe your children forgot you at Christmas. Even when people forget you, you need to know that God never forgets you. You are always on His mind. Romans 8:31 says, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Did you know that God is thinking about you right now. He is not thinking about you merely as a member of the human race or as a part of your church. He is thinking about you as an individual. “What? God thinks about little me? Isn’t He busy?” The psalmist wrote, "Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered" (Psalm 40:5). Its great to know that God is never too busy for us, even though sometimes we are too busy for Him.

God's thoughts toward you are continual and uncountable. You could never add the sum of God’s tremendous thoughts toward you. God Almighty, the one who holds the heavens in the span of His hand, the one who spoke creation into being, is thinking about you right now. What an amazing fact!

Not only is God the Father thinking about you, but God the Son is interceding for you. Hebrews 7:25 says, "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

So, God the Father is thinking about you, God the Son is praying for and interceding for you, and God the Holy Spirit is helping you as well: "Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27).

What more could you want to assure you that you are worth something? You are not forgotten. God is constantly thinking about you. Jesus is constantly interceding for you. The Holy Spirit is your constant Helper. God is for you. God is thinking about you. God is on your side!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What a Night

We had a wonderful night as the new member's class came over to our house for a cookout. About 45 people packed out our house and we had a great time of fellowship and BBQ. (i thought the 30 people we had over at the first of March for the previous New Member's cookout was big) Life can't get much better than BBQ and fellow believers - all in the same room. We took furniture out of the house to set up tables. Its great to know our house has a great ministry purpose. I can't wait till Life Group this Sunday night to fill the house back up with people in the church. Help me Lord to keep my house your house - a place of ministry.

Are you being transformed or conformed?

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do."
—Romans 12:2

Once, a flock of wild geese was flying south for the winter when one goose looked down and noticed a group of domestic geese by a little pond near a farm. He noticed they had plenty of grain to eat. Life seemed good on the farm and he thought to himself, “Why am I doing all this work when they look like they have it made. I’ll join them and take a much needed break.”

So he flew down and hung out with these geese until spring. He enjoyed the food that was there, all the while getting fat and lazy. He decided that he would rejoin his flight of geese when they went north again. After all, what harm could this bring? The other geese appeared happy and content.

When spring came, he heard the wild geese overhead and flew up to join them, but he had grown a bit fat from all of the seed. Flying was difficult and required work he didn’t like, so he decided to spend one more season on the farm and then rejoin the geese on their next winter migration. After all, life on the farm was good. Putting off getting back to his life’s mission another few months couldn’t be that bad – could it? He couldn’t believe what he had been missing all those years.

When the geese flew south the following fall, the goose flapped his wings a little, looked up, but he just kept eating his grain. He had simply lost interest. His former way of life had been interrupted by his complacency and the cozy, comfortable lifestyle he had come to love. He lost his real purpose and true way of life. Now his only purpose was to be come fattened till the farmer made him into a main course for supper.

That is what happens in the subtle process of the world influencing our lives. A little compromise here and some settling and laziness there and its not long before we are completely away from the life God intends for us. It is not necessarily dramatic, nor does it usually happen overnight. It is gradual, causing erosion in our lives as we begin to lower our standards. Soon, the things of God become less appealing, and the things of this world become more appealing. After a while, we have no interest in the things of God and we are “fat and happy” doing our own thing – even though it will lead to destruction.

I heard a story of a wolf hunter in Alaska that would put blood on the end of a knife and stick it in the ground. The wolf would lick the dried blood on the knife, cutting its tongue in the process. Little by little, the thirst for blood would cause the wolf to lick its own blood caused by the knife, eventually causing so much blood loss that the wolf would either die or become so weak that capture was inevitable.

Are you slowly being pulled away from the things of God to the things of this world? Has sin crept into your life to the point that you are “ok” with what used to appall you? Do your selfish desires outweigh your Godly desires? Evaluate your life. Investigate your choices. What is your motivation for living? Does it match God’s intention for your life? We have a choice: either we will be conformed to this world, or we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is one or the other. Which way will you go?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To Live is Christ

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21)

Everyone has a favorite television show. I like anything that has to do with history, mystery and suspense. I ran across an interesting statistic the other day though about watching TV. It has been determined that the average American spends 15 years of his or her life in front of the television set—15 years. 50% of Americans watch it during dinner with their family. I am not saying we cannot watch TV. Sure, we need to watch things that honor Christ and bring us closer to Him, but we can sure waste a lot of time in front of it. I sure have.

I am a channel surfer. My wife likes to watch HGTV and anything to do with weddings and babies. Some of that is ok, but to me is not fun. Therefore, I try to gain possession of the remote so I can start clicking. I like to watch about eight things at once. Yet I have been amazed at how I will sit down and say, "I am going to watch TV for thirty minutes," but when I look at my watch, hours have gone by. I have wasted all that time and feel half brain-dead as a result. Someone once said, “Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you would not have in your home.”

Is the purpose of this article to be against television? Certainly not. My purpose is to ask “What are we living for and spending our lives on?” We can squander time watching television, but we can squander time doing other things as well. So let's not throw our lives away. Let's wisely use the precious moments God gives to us each day, each month, and each year, and let's use them for Him. We will stand before Him on that final day. We should be able to sum up our lives like the apostle Paul and say, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Only the person who can say, "To live is Christ" can then say, "To die is gain."

Some people might say, "To me, to live is sports," or "To me, to live is music." Everyone lives for something. It’s important to know that what you spend time, effort, money and resources on is what you live for. Now, everyone has hobbies and interests. That’s not what I’m speaking of. I’m speaking about what drives you. What is it that motivates your life? Is it the next reality TV show? Is it a particular sport? Is it your kids? Or is it Christ?

Christ lived for us. He also died for us. Shouldn’t we live for Him in return? Shouldn’t His love for us and our love for Him be our motivation for life? I challenge you to inspect your lifestyle and allow Jesus to be your motivation for living. What do you live for? How great it is to be able to say, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pass on your Past

I was reading the other day in Romans 8:1 and it says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." Everyone has a past. Some of that past is good and some is bad. Some you are proud of and some you hope no one finds out about. When people make statements like "I've got a past" or "If you only knew my past" they are usually not talking about a good past. There are just a few options you have when dealing with a bad past. 1 - learn from it, 2 - repent from it and 3 - move on from it.

If you constantly dwell on your bad past, whether it was sin, mistakes, unfortunate circumstances, etc. it starts to determine your present and future. A bad past can literally rob you of a good present and future life. Sometimes it leads to a victim mentality and that's all you can focus on. One or two bad things in the past can determine your huge future - what a shame!

The Bible says we do not have to live in the condemnation or guilt of the past but live in Christ. What does it mean to be "in Christ". The words "in Christ" are the same words used in the Old Testament to describe Noah being "in" the ark. How safe was the ark? How water-tight was it? Was he in danger of being swallowed up by what surrounded him in the ark? No. He was protected and safe. He was safe "in the ark" because he obeyed the Lord and put pitch on the exterior of the ark to seal it.

That word "pitch" is the same word used for "in Christ" or propitiation or a covering. Noah was saved from the raging floods by the water-tight ark he was in. We are saved from a raging world and a bad past life by being in Christ. There is no condemnation or guilt over a past life for those in Christ. We are protected from the destructiveness of a past that wants to drown us and destroy our present and future by being in the safety and protection of a relationship in Christ. The blood of Christ is the "pitch" that covers and protects our lives today. It provides access for forgiveness, repentance, second chances, and new beginnings.

Are you struggling with past? Are you in Christ? The freedom from a bad past and being in relationship with Christ go hand-in-hand. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Do you need a new beginning? It's found "in Christ".

Paul said this about past in Philippians 3:11-14: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

It's time to press on (move beyond your past) and take hold of what Jesus has for you. To do that, you need to forget the past, learn from it, repent from it, and move on. We used to say - Admit it, quit it, and forget it! You have to press in to do that. Press is a term that requires energy, effort and action. It can be tough. But somtimes you have to go through fire to be refined. After all, steel is made by fire. Gold is refined in fire. The fire hurts, but the result is worth it. God has reward and a great prize ahead of you. Stop living in your bad past - move in what God has for you now and the future!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Girl

Read Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

If you know me, you know I can’t dance. Not even a little bit. When I was in the High School band, we were not just a marching band - we were a dancing band. That is, everyone except me. I kept getting the solos for some reason. I dreaded dancing in the band, especially parades.
My oldest daughter is in dance class and I found out that we are doing a “Daddy-Daughter Dance” in the recital. At first I wasn’t too thrilled but thought I could hide in the back. Then I thought, “There are a couple of my friends there I know can’t dance. Maybe they will steal all the attention.” I was relieved as I went to practice and learned the dance with probably 60 other dads. There is strength in numbers. We’re dancing to the song “My Girl.” It wasn’t so bad. A twist here and a hug and kiss with my daughter and my 1 minute and 15 seconds of fame is complete.
As we drove home from the last practice, my daughter said, “Daddy, you’re the best daddy-dancer ever.” She has the gift of embellishment. I said, “Thanks, you’re the best daughter-dancer ever.” I’m looking forward to the Daddy-Daughter Dance.
I heard a song on the radio by Steven Curtis Chapman recently entitled “Cinderella”. Its about his daughter and how fast she grew up and his struggle to not miss any moment of it. It made me think - I’ll gladly embarrass myself dancing if I don’t have to miss out on a moment with my daughter.
That short dance made me realize I had to work hard if I didn’t want to miss out on the moments that are fleeting with my kids. Silly tea parties, saving her from the pretend sharks in the backyard, waking up early in the morning for chocolate milk and jelly toast - all those moments will fade one day. Will I have missed them? Will I have found “more important” things to do? What memories will we have together?
The Bible says in Psalm 127:3, “Children are a blessing from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Am I basking in the reward or busy in the rat race? Am I counting my blessings each moment with my children or am I loosing opportunities to grow closer with them?
How about you? Are you cherishing every moment with your children? Do you see them as a blessing or a distraction? Are they a reward from God or a burden? I want to bring my girls up in the Lord and I can only do that as I grow in Him.
No matter what age your children are, it’s never too late to start spending quality time with them. After all, “love” to them is spelled “t-i-m-e”. Quality time with your family only comes through quantity time. Look for ways to teach Godly principles to them through everyday living. Enjoy your time. Laugh. Have fun. Relax. Don’t give up.
Lord, teach me to be like you because my daughters want to be like me. Help them see the great Father and Husband you are through my relationship with my wife and them. Orchestrate and choreograph my life as I dance on the stage of life with my wife and girls.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On a Personal Note

I had a great weekend (besides the problems). Isn't that usually the case! I was in charge of building (which I had help with) two doors that had signs above them that read, "Jesus, the Door of Hope" for the weekend services. This idea came to us in staff meeting on Tuesday, which left little time to accomplish it. I had great help, but I don't think Satan wanted people to get the message of Jesus being their door of hope this weekend. The doors looked great, but we had a time getting them to the church (one fell off the trailer on the way and broke 1 hour before the service began). Even though I was frustrated, God used them to illustrate His Hope and many lives were touched by the example.

After church on this past Saturday night, we had a baptism and I needed to video it. I led kids church and then ran across church to video and almost slipped in water. Little did I know what went on during service! We had the baptistry water line plumbed in this week and someone left it on for about 45 minutes. The baptistry overflowed, no exaggeration, about 1,000 gallons of water. IT WAS EVERYWHERE. It filled the 2 conference rooms beside it, the front of the prayer room, the hallway, and the student center and literally flowed out the door and under the walls into the parking lot.

We got all the water out and everything dried out fine. People were mopping, using wet vacs, squeegees, push brooms, towels, etc. What a team!!! No one owned up to leaving the water on though. Shame, shame, shame. Anyway. The lesson for kids church that night was "God is in Control" and we used the bible story of Moses parting the Red Sea - how appropriate! God was in control of the doors we were building and He parted the baptistry waters that flowed down the hall. We are going to install an overflow drain this week (why we haven't already, I'll never know. Whoever is in charge of the baptistry should do a better job - oh, wait, that's me).

One of my Life Group guys and I went to measure and make a materials list for a wheel chair ramp we are building for a little girl in our church. What fun! To know we are really touching that family's life and making a real difference. Sometimes, you don't know if you make a difference or if you are even being taken advantage of - which is really beside the point anyway. Its all done in faith. Its great to know we can be used of God to help a family with a real need - imagine that - being real and being church at the same time.

Our Life Group went great with 19 people present. We had three guests we reached out to as well. I ran into a couple who had been out of church for a while and began to get into their lives again. We encouraged the group, as we talked about hope (Prov 13:12; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 8:28; 1 John 3:2-3) to watch for the open doors into the lives of people who need the kind of hope only Christ offers.

We've had several families join the church lately and we decided to add another membership class because of it. 8 people were baptized last weekend and we've had several saved recently. God is doing great things. We just need to stay humble and on track with what the Word says.

I just finished a book "Honor's Reward" by John Bevere. He wrote "Undercover", "Drawing Near", "The Bait of Satan", "Thus Saith The Lord" and several other great books. We are about to start teaching it in all our Life Groups. I love it because its full of scripture and it has brought me back to placing huge honor on those in authority (spiritual, civic, etc.) once again. When we grasp honor, I think we'll grasp a lot more Christ-like characteristics.

I'm starting to build a play fort for the girls tomorrow. That's right - a fort. Two story, with a slide, fireman's pole, and tire swing. Well, we'll see. It could turn out to be a kit from Walmart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Marital Maintenance

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:24-25 NIV

A good friend recently gave me a riding lawn mower that was in pretty good shape. At first glance, it appeared to be in good condition. But, as I tried to start it, I realized it needed a little TLC.

After changing the battery, I noticed it needed new belts and blades. After changing the belts and blades, I noticed more that needed attention - a new spark plug, an oil and filter change, new air filter, new fuel line and filter, and repair reverse drive and air in the tires.

After those repairs, which mostly were routine, yearly maintenance, it purred like a kitten (more like a tiger). I cut my lawn and had no problems.

At first glance, the mower looked fine. My friend had mentioned the repairs to me, but I still wanted to undertake the task. Why? Some people would say, “Its worthless, hopeless or useless.” Others may say, “Just get a new one and get rid of that old thing.” But I saw the value in keeping it. The repairs may have seemed time consuming and numerous, but I got a $1,200 mower for under $100. You can’t beat that. A little maintenance goes a long way and put that mower back to its purpose - mowing.

Marriage, while more complex than a riding lawn mower, requires routine maintenance as well. Some people will look at an imperfection in their marriage as a headache or useless to tackle. Others may have lost vision for their marriage - what it could be or even what it used to be.

That mower worked at one time. It could work again. The same is true for marriage. Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as their husbands submit to Christ. Husbands should love their wives as Jesus loves the Church. That requires daily maintenance in a personal relationship with Christ.

While you may have issues or conflict in your marriage, remember this: there is nothing too big for God to repair. He’s in the business of reconciliation and restoration. Daily time with Him and submitting to His will for your life and marriage will get you back on purpose.

So when you are tempted to “scrap” your marriage or give up because of minor repairs, just remember that Christ gave himself for the church. Jesus wants you to have a marriage that is fruitful and joyful. He wants you to win in your marriage.

What needs attention in your marriage? What needs a tune-up? Are you giving your marriage over to Christ or the “dump”. Do you wish your relationship with your mate would thrive again? Then let Jesus, the Master Mechanic, help you with your Marital Maintenance.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tabliod Mentality

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them."
—Romans 16:17

I hate the tabloids. They are full of gossip and lies. But it seems as though we are living in a day of tabloid mentality. I have never seen a culture and society so obsessed with gossip, innuendos, and rumors. Just turn on the TV and you'll find all kinds of programs that probe into the personal lives of others.

This tabloid mentality is all the news media is concerned about. Reporters hunt for that juicy piece of gossip. The tragedy is that if someone is charged with a crime today, we try him or her in the media before they ever have had the opportunity to enter a court of law where evidence is presented and where they face their accusers.

Sadly, this kind of thinking can even enter the church. When conflict arises or a problem (which usually can easily be solved)springs up, Christians go wild. When we hear something about someone else, immediately our ears perk up. While Christians should be the first to run away from rumors and run to the source to get the real story, we sadly fall into the trap of gossip or being upset at another believer - without ever talking to them first! What happened to going to a person one on one to discuss something before we bought into a lie, rumor or misconception?

Christians shouldn't let petty things divide them. I've seen Christians get upset over the smallest issues and build an offense. Sometimes even ministries quarrel. One ministry leader or worker thinks they are the "red-headed-step-child" and always being done wrong. They think they are always getting short changed by another "more important" ministry. I thought we were on the same team? I thought we worked and served together? I think the Bible says we don't wrestle with flesh and blood. Jesus flesh and blood spent on the Cross took care of that. People, especially other Christians, aren't our enemies (no one should be).

But what does the Bible tell us? It says that love believes the best of every person. It doesn't say that love believes the worst. This means when someone says something about a Christian brother or sister, you should immediately have some disbelief in your heart. The reason is that you are to believe the best of that individual. We must be very careful, because many times we accept rumor as truth. Then to make matters worse, we start repeating what we've heard without checking the facts.

What ever happened to going to another brother or sister in Christ FIRST and working through a situation instead of spreading negativity? Negative people breed negative people. Some people thrive on gossip and when the smallest issue comes up, they are all over it. These actions aren't Christian and divide and distract what Christ intends for the Church. And if these people are leaders - it will spread to everyone under them. Some under them will pick up this attitude and imitate this nonsense. Others will hear it and leave that ministry or lose respect for that leader.

To correct this, repentance is the key. The person stirring up gossip or strife should repent to everyone involved. If strife and conflict are always where these people are, they usually are the reason. Repentance is the only way bring wholeness and represent a true Christlike lifestyle.

One of the things the Bible says that God hates is the one who sows discord among others (see Proverbs 6:16–19). This is the person who spreads rumors, who spreads innuendos, and who slanders others. God hates this.

Be someone who resolves conflict, not someone who starts it. Be someone who desires peace and reconciliation, not gossip and tension. Be someone who runs from rumors, not someone who can't wait for the next juicy bit.

Don't be someone who spreads rumors. Don't be someone who gossips. It's wrong. It's sinful. And it displeases God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time Keeps on Ticking Away

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
—Psalm 90:12

Let's say that your phone rings right after reading this article and it’s the manager from your bank. He greets you then proceeds to tell you he had received a phone call today and some anonymous, wealthy donor wants to deposit 86,400 cents into your account every single day for the rest of your life.

Perplexed, you say, “What? I don’t understand. Explain that to me again.” The banker explains, "Every single day, this person will deposit 86,400 cents into your account.” Is that much money? You wonder at first, and then you get out your calculator and figure out that it amounts to $864 every day. That is pretty good money for nothing you think. Then the banker explains there is a catch to this small fortune.

The banker says, "But there is one condition. You have to spend it every single day. You can't save it up. You can't add it to the next day's balance. Every day, you must spend that money. What is not spent will be taken away. This person will do this each and every day, but the condition is that you must spend the money."

So you go back to your calculator and figure out that $864 times 7 equals $6,048 per week. Come to find out, multiplied by 52, that comes to $314,496 per year. That is a pretty good deal. Only one problem – it’s only a fantasy.

So let's deal with reality. Someone who loves you very much deposits into your bank of time 86,400 seconds every single day. That someone is God. And the condition is that you must spend it. You can't save up time today and apply it toward tomorrow—there is no such thing as a 27-hour day. Each and every day, you have the opportunity to invest your precious commodity of time. What will you do with it? Everyone spends their time on what they see as valuable. Tragically though, most people waste it on selfish ambitions and fruitless deeds.

I’ve seen some people live an amazing life in a short amount of time and others live an ordinary life and in a long period of time. Quantity means nothing without quality.

The Bible says in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Simply put, a wise person sees their time on this earth as a valuable commodity to be invested into the lives of others and God’s will.

What will you do with your fortune? Will you give it away or hoard it? Will you invest it into the lives of others or selfishly watch it waste away? Will you make it count or just simply watch it count down?

Tick, tock.

What a week

The Passion Play is over - nearly 5,000 people heard the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had many decision for Christ and are following up on them.

One family who was in the play this year told me their first time to come to our church was when they drove by last year and saw us building the tomb for the play. They stopped and asked what we were doing and someone walked them through it all - they took the time to minister to that family. Now, this family has been part of our church since that day and was even involved in the play this year - even their two kids.

Several people in our church used the passion play as a tool to reach their families and friends for Christ. They brought them to experience God's amazing love.

Another family said they had driven by every day to work in Little Rock. they saw the activity each day and finally came on the last night - and the husband gave his life to Christ. They were in church this weekend as well!

Testimony after testimony keeps coming in on changed lives. Just think if we hadn't done this event and just "hoped" lives would be changed. What if we just thought "someone else will do it". What if we said, "these decisions won't stick". How naive. God wants to use each Christian to reach people for Christ. Bring back the heart of evangelism. Salvation began with what Christ did on the cross. It is presented to people to make a choice. After the choice comes following Christ and discipleship. Bring back the biblical command of making disciples.

I talked to another guy who hadn't been in church in several months who recommitted his life to Christ. Another lady came almost every night - just because she wanted to experience what Jesus had done again and again.

I saw tears and looks of amazement at what Christ had done. I saw people investigate their lives and come face to face with a living God. Thank you God for desiring to use us. What a humbling experience.

Passion Plays, drama in general, and other outreach events are just tools to communicate God's love to the world. they are not an end in themselves, but a means to reach people for Christ and help them discover God's plan for their lives.

God, help us to communicate you wherever we go in whatever means necessary to reach a world in need of a Savior.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

1,100 + at the Passion Experience

1,100+ tonight at the Passion Experience! We have never had that many people at one time at a production! We've had 3,500 before at Holyween, but never that many sitting down for a production. Where will we put them tomorrow! It was standing room only and we got 100 more chairs from inside. we'll put them wherever we can tomorrow night. I hear the median or the shoulder is a good seat! just kidding, although we had several cars that stopped on the side of the road tonight. Lots of decisions for Christ. I pray those people get plugged into our church or another church to get discipled and grow in Christ.

The Passion Experience

Day 4 of the Passion Experience will begin in a couple of hours. Monday night, we had about 750 people attend with several decision for Christ. Tuesday, it rained and with the high winds and lightening (we had 3 people on a lift 30 ft high, 3 people on crosses 15-25 foot high, 350 people sitting on metal bleachers, and about to send one guy up for the Ascension scene 40+ feet) we had to cancel the passion play with about 15 minutes to go. Wednesday night we had about 800+ people attend. Tonight and Friday should be our biggest nights. We put out 125 extra chairs tonight and are expecting 900-1000 the next two nights. Its been fun!

We've had radio spots, television interviews, newspaper articles written, hundreds of pictures taken, and hours of video footage from every angle possible. We have had great opportunities to lift up the name of Christ this week. I pray the next two nights bring in many salvations and people into God's church.

I'm putting together a DVD for cast/crew only and will have pictures and clips on the website soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In the Crowd

I remember a scene in "We Were Soldiers" starring Mel Gibson of a journalist who was dropped into combat in Vietnam. His job was to take pictures, but he soon found himself involved in the battle. I'm sure he had no idea of what he was getting into nor did he think he would be part of the battle. He eventually put down his camera and picked up a gun.
Later, other journalists arrived after the battle and started taking pictures. He had experienced the battle and they had not. They could only imagine what happened and get second hand conversation about the events. He lived it.

Last night, I began to video the drama practice for our outdoor Passion Play. It wasn't long before I started to think, "What if I had been there". I thought about the first hand experiences of Peter, Mary, the Roman soldier, the thieves, the disciples, and the crowd. What if I had been "in the crowd". What if I had been part of the story.

Most people think they are apart from the story. "It happened so long ago. It isn't relevant to me". Now, you don't want to miss our outdoor passion play March 17-21 at 8PM each night, but you don't need a play once a year to experience Jesus' sacrifice.

The bible says "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever." You can experience his passion for you today.

Put yourself in the story. Get in the crowd. Come face to face with Jesus as He died for you. Don't be just be a spectator like the journalist. Become a participator and experience the Passion of the Christ. Start by doing what Romans 10:9-10 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Monday, March 10, 2008

God's Word for Kids

I believe that the power of the word of God will work for kids as well as adults. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 that what Timothy had learned from the Word was from what he learned as a child. Here is what those verses say:

And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We as adults need to encourage children to trust in God's word. While the word is for teaching, corection, etc. it doesn't get done on its own. To work on kids, it has to be taught to them. We adults must build faith in our kids. We should tell them about a God who will come through for them and encourage them to trust him because he is faithful.

We need to tell what's important about the scriptures. Its good that a kids knows David had 5 stones and a sling shot and that Jonah was in a whale 3 days and nights, but the point of those stories is victory over giants in life and trusting and obeying God. They should have learned to walk in the power of God’s covenant and to believe God is in covenant with them just like He is with adults.

The lion's are not what are important in the story of David. Its the point that Daniel stood up for what he believed in - God - and wouldn't trust in anything else no matter what happened to him. He recieved supernatural protections from the Lord and learned to trust in Him. The story could have been about rattlesnakes or even bears.

Children need to know about the principles of God's word so they can put them into practice. If all they know about the word is "cute bible stories" then all they will have is that. If they know how to use God's word and the principles for living behind those cute stories then they will be victorious in their lives at a young age.

If all we ask kids to do is "sit down and be quiet" at church, then that's what they will grow up and do. We already have enough adults just sitting around and doing nothing in church. We need kids who are on fire for the Lord and know His word and that it applies to them.

Please don't forget that "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). You must teach them the Word. If not, then they can't have faith without knowing what the Word says. Don't just teach Bible stories: teach principles for living.

Whatever your role is: working in kids ministry, parents, grandparents, etc., please remember to teach the Word and how kids can apply it to their lives. Make sure the kids you have contact with are prepared for victorious living through God's Word.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jesus, Our Firm Foundation

Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great. —Luke 6:47–49

I recently cut several trees down in my backyard in hopes of preparing a place for my girls to play. I began to saw the stumps close to the ground so they could be ground into woodchips.

As I began to saw the largest tree stump, which was about two and a half feet in diameter, I noticed something different from the other stumps. It was hollow inside. It only took a couple of minutes to saw through it and I realized there was only about a two inch wall of wood around the outside of the stump. The rest of the stump had been eaten by bugs and turned into sawdust.

I’m glad I cut that tree down. The largest tree in my yard, which was very close to my house, was being held up by a weak stump. A strong wind could have come through and knocked it down – right on my house!
That made me think of a Bible verse in Luke 6. Jesus was preaching to several people about trusting in Him as their firm foundation in life. He mentioned two types of builders: one who built his house on solid rock and one who didn’t use any foundation. The builder who used a strong foundation outlasted the storm and flood and his house was saved. The builder who neglected to use a foundation lost everything.
Why have a firm foundation? Foundations are the supporting structure of the house. The foundation of a house must be stable and well built for the rest of the house to be safe and steady. The foundation of a roadway must be carefully prepared so that the road will not crack, crumble and fall apart. The foundation of a tree must be solid to support the weight of the entire tree.
Likewise, a person must have a firm foundation on which to construct his life. In order for you to outlast the storms and floods of this life, your foundation for living must be built on solid bedrock of Jesus Christ. Salvation through Christ is the start of your Christian building. Jesus is the solid bedrock that you are going to build your house on.
What has been your foundation in life? Money, work, possessions, other people? While those are good, they will never give you the strong, bedrock support like Jesus can. It doesn’t matter how much you decorate your house. If your foundation isn’t strong, it will fall apart.
There’s an old song that says: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
I encourage you to trust Jesus as you Savior and build your life on Him – the true Solid Rock and Firm Foundation.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

God is up to something

A lot has happened since the last post. God is really up to some great things in my life. I turned 30! My youngest daughter Abby turned 1 and took a couple of steps this past week.

We had several kids compete in the AWANA quiz bowl and they did extremely well. Our Saturday night elementary Kids Church has been growing to about 50 each saturday night and our Sunday AM kids church is at about 55-60. AWANA is growing steady with about 100 each Wed night. We've scheduled several more baptisms of kids who have recently given their lives to the Lord.

I've had the honor of writing several articles for the Saturday Pine Bluff Commercial in the church section. Several times over the last couple of weeks while I've been out running erands, I've had a few people say thanks for the encouragement. I'm glad God can use me to lift Him up. I pray its not about me but a tool to bring others closer to Him.

I've been hard at work getting the advertisement materials done for the Easter Experience Outdoor Passion Play. Posters for store windows, invite cards, 10,000 mailout postcards, newspaper ads, banners, and even some arrangements for television interviews closer to the event. I finished editing the passion play soundtrack today. In about 50 minutes, there are 13 scenes from the Last Supper to the Ressurection. It is really going to be an awesome demonstration and experience of Christ's redemptive sacrifice on the cross. Over 100 people are busy, busy, busy building sets, sewing costumes, acting and all kinds of behind the scenes activities. We're planning on 1,000 poeple each night. I pray we reach 5,000+ people with the Gospel of Christ this Easter.

Our Life Group is going really well. We are reaching out to 3 new couples and one of them came to group last time. The other two are susposed to come next time.

I've had several opportunities this past week through phone calls and meetings to see more people grow in Christ. The victories have been great - tough to walk through - but great. Thanks God for using me.

I love the ministry. Its hard work, but well worth it. Its great to see people growing each day closer to the Lord. I never want to quit pastoring. I can't imagine why anyone would! Sure there are tough times, hart trials, and seemingly impossible situations in life - but we serve a faithful God. He always comes through. Pastoring is about people. People need to transform into the image of Jesus and that takes a lifetime. If you are a pastor or someone in minsitry thinking about quitting because its too hard, remember: Jesus is Lord of all situations, even yours. He can give you the strength to endure. You are not a victim, you are a victor. I pray you'll walk worthy of the high call on your life and fix your eyes on Jesus instead of your circumstances. Hang in there and watch God work through you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Finishing What We Start

"You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"
—Galatians 5:7

While in college, I practiced a few times with the soccer team. I was never part of the team. I simply enjoyed the exercise and spending time with friends.

One day the soccer coach said we were running seven miles on the track. I thought to myself, “no big deal”. I started out well, as did the other guys, but began to struggle during the fourth mile. My soccer friends soon passed me and finished the seven mile course. I admit, reluctantly, that I dropped out around mile six.

Let’s say we were in a race. I was in the lead by a great margin the whole race, but dropped out during the last lap. Eventually, you finished the race. I clearly was faster than you, but you won the race because you did not give up – you finished the race.

In the same way, there are people who started off with a great burst of energy as they followed the Lord. Maybe you were one of those people. Maybe you came to Christ when you were younger, but have not been living for Him as an adult. Or perhaps you trusted in the Lord more recently. How you were running a year ago, or even a month ago, is no longer significant. Its how you are running right now that matters. Are you keeping up the pace? Are you growing stronger as a Christian? Have you given up because of tough times or an offense? Are you going to make it across the finish line? You can make it if you want to.

A lot of people start a lot of things, but never finish them. Jesus wants you to experience a lifetime of growing in Him, not just a short season. God does not want you to give up on Him because tough times or discouragement may come. After all, He will never give up on you (Hebrews 13:5).

There will be times as you live the Christian life when it will be hard. You will have to hold on to God's Word and the promise that He will complete the work He has begun in your life (Philippians 1:6). But will you make the effort to cross the finish line?

Jesus and others are cheering for you to finish the race – to grow in your relationship with Christ over a lifetime. But you must run the race, one step at a time. Get your eyes off the situation that caused you to drop out. Fix your eyes on Jesus. There is a finish line ahead and victory in store. The Bible says that we will receive a harvest of blessing if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9). Don’t just start out well – finish well. I pray God will give you the endurance to get back in the race and experience, once again, Christ’s rich plans for your life.