Monday, November 30, 2009

Got Fishin’ Flexibility?

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." ~Acts 17:17

 

You can learn to fish! And you can learn to flex as you go fishing ...just like a fishing pole!

 

If you are a Christian, you will hopefully not go after idols like blind world-lings do ..seen (physical) or unseen idols. You will instead want to be a good witness for Jesus no matter the location or the circumstances where He leads you.. and no matter how the situations may change or vary.

 

Paul was just such a witness. And like Paul, we too have got to be ready in season and out ..to give a viable reason to people for why we believe what we believe, even if things don't turn out as we would have them.  

 

The apostle Paul didn't so much have a "Come hear me" attitude, but he did have an "I'll go wisely tell them" attitude and that's exactly what he did with the Good News over and over again. He let the Spirit close doors, open doors and day by day lead him in all this. Do you? You can!

 

I love how accessible Paul was. I love how he went to where the people were ..not merely to speak, but to listen, to learn ..and so that he could with sincerity, engage people. I just love how Paul had back-bone—a no-compromise commitment along with deep convictions from the Spirit. He wasn't perfect; sure he was quirky to the max, but I love how he proved to be flexible and zealous in personal evangelism like when he was dealing with those in Athens.

 

It started with Him and the Word in the synagogue of the Jews for three Sabbath days. That was his custom.

           

Yes, Paul was prayerful and therefore he could adapt and flex to the situation without inappropriately going beyond what was written. It was always a great day when Paul ministered using Scripture because he really felt an inner burden for people.

 

In Athens he cared for those spiritually poor elitists who were literally ignorant of the truth, but instead of recognizing their condition.. they were feeling quite smug like they knew so much more. Ya gotta go check out this story in Acts 17.

 

And some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were pretty curious about Paul. After they quibbled a bit among themselves asking, "What does this babbler want to say?" (verse 18), Paul was actually invited to come address the locals. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be asked to speak to these up-and-outer cognoscenti dudes.. these upper-crust-ers of the Athenian intelligentsia and of so-called higher learning so to speak.

 

No matter what Paul felt like inside, it wasn't about him or about all that inner warm n fuzzy fickle stuff. It was about what God wanted to freely give them because of what Jesus did on the cross to pay for their ininquities and wrongs!

 

They probably had invited him to speak sensing that he wasn't some kind of puffed-up arrogant type, as so many gruff religious people can so easily become.

 

Still trying to figure Paul out, some people mumbled, "'He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,' because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?'" (See verse 19).

 

Do people today want to know about doctrine? Not so much for the most part, but we all should take interest in sound doctrine and how to apply it! But "puttin' on the speakers hat" if you will ..and his down-to-business goin' to meetin' face, Paul was excited to address these valuable people. And that's exactly what he gladly did!

 

Didn't waste any time! Why should he? If the fish are nibbling, why go off to study about bait, lures or species.. or the inner child or nature of the fish?

 

Just drop a line and set the hook when they hit. Chuck some krill, some sardines or old cheese overboard, watch the school flock and then use if net if you can! The more real intake the better.

 

Yeah, it didn't take Paul long at all to start out.. he didn't need to go on some hyper-spiritual quake n bake n shake, week-long fasting retreat to make sure this was really from the Lord. Hey, a retreat ain't bad per se when the time is right for such, but that's my point. He didn't have much time. There's a time to pray and there's a time to prayerfully act!

 

Thank God that He, through a prayer-n-share love relationship, had already made Paul in-tune with the Lord's missionary heartbeat n will. So Paul seized the opportunity for God ..not for self.. he just jumped on it and, yup.. quickly adapted his approach, his tone, his tempo, his tact and thought processes to be fitting for his hearer's sake.

 

Was he leaning on the Spirit enough? Time'll eventually tell. We can see one day in heaven.

 

You and I certainly need to lean on the Spirit's enabling!

 

It was a wonderful opportunity huh, one that makes ya wanna whole-heartedly feel like worshipping Jesus 'til you drop over on your side for sheer exhaustion!

 

Hey, we too have got to get off our blessed pew-warming posteriors and out the door to where the fishin' be good! Sure, if we want to obey and find people to "Friend" for Christ. Do we have all the time in the world? Aren't we livin' in the last days?

 

I know one thing for sure.. you and I are indeed living in our last days. It's time for the Church to jump in the hammer-lane with this Mandate!

 

Be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. —1 Timothy 6:18

 

Love is giving for the world's needs, love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries, love is compassion with Christlike eyes.
 —Brandt

 

How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? —Romans 10:14

 

What's my point with this old witnessing story?

 

Well, it's this. If you think it's time to play with tools n time n lives n church for playin's sake. You're wrong. If you feel like the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is merely for the paid professionals to carry out. You're dead wrong! It's for you and for me and for everyone who is about to get on board.. cuz a lot of paid professionals simply aren't riding this train to glory!

 

Fishermen use different kinds of bait for different kinds of fish. There is indeed a time to study! There is a time to pray for those we'll catch too.

 

The Gospel is already relevant—it's not to be taught in some boring, monotone or joyless manner! It's thrilling to serve Jesus Christ! What greater cause is there?

 

But when you go fishing for men, women, boys and girls ..so to speak (instead of for dogs and cats and fish and monkeys and all kinds of endangered animals—and I do feel love all those creatures some too), you also must use different kinds of bait that really attracts these people in a righteous kind of way. Ask God what to use! You want to be a straightforward, consistent example.. and offer something that people will clearly understand; something they will be able to relate to. Sure; that's how you came to know the beauty of Jesus. 

 

We find the primo-example of this type of effective fishin' in the Gospel of John chapters 3 and 4, as Jesus.. like a sharp-shooter ..presented the Gospel Message to two very treasured individuals. Not like a shot-gunner—*B O O M*—but more like a non-reckless well-seasoned guy down to business did Christ connect with a very religious teacher of the law and also with an immoral licentious woman. Absolutely, Nick at night was someone's innocent little boy at one time and she was someone's precious little daughter to protect.

 

With Nick, Jesus got right to it saying, "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:3, nlt).

 

In other words, Hey.. check it out. Bottom-line your current birthday with all the balloon, horns, streamers etc or how ever you celebrate it.. just won't cut it with your Maker. You need a new one from the One who got you birthed the first time! Your classy n yet very cold looking synagogues, your elaborate robes, your incense and candles, your hyper-rigid religious attitude along with the high-brow hoch- nasig religious views.. they just won't gain you any brownie-points with the God you teach about. You need to wake up on every level to the reality of eternity and what's really at stake here! And Nicodemus, you need to do it quickly cuz you ain't getting any younger ..if you know what I mean buddy.

 

Now of course Jesus didn't use any flippant slang like I do, but you get the picture of how he cut to the chase. You remember how Christ tenderly with fierce holiness spoke to that beat-down n bummed-out woman at the well. Man, she erroneously had a man's-the-answer-problem. She over and over again, tried to quench her deep inner thirst for love with guys who merely feigned or failed at the kind of intimacy and personality that she really longed for ..and could only be found with Jesus the Christ.

 

Have you looked to find true faithfulness and fulfillment in relationships with men or with women, or now-a-days with either ..or with whatever? Stop it. Quit listening to all the voices in the fashion-forward-world, you know from the New York or Hollywood media that are singing and shouting at you about what you must have. Quit wasting your time.

 

Jesus understood the woman at the well. He knew her real needs and He appealed to her inner longings in the right way. He spoke of a strong living water to quaff-down that would radically satisfy her. It will you as well.. if you'll simply come to Christ right now.

 

You and I have broken God's holy laws (admit it, I will too), but Jesus Christ was a flexible compassionate Fisher of men, of women—of all kinds of people! It was for the Gospel's sake. And you wanna hear it huh?

 

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and... rose again the third day. —1 Corinthians 15:3-4

 

Listen, Jesus wants to catch you here and now ..as you are, where you are ..if you are willing to repent and be changed by Him. What do you have to lose? Nada! Null! Zippo!

 

And then Christ wants to make you a part of the Solution for this sin-cursed-planet-of-wayward-n-wicked-folk rather than part of the problem (peeps merely in the way and hindering others..) as so many have wittingly and unwittingly become. Jesus always adapted short of sin ..yup, did it totally right for every person and that's exactly what we need to do as well! You can learn this!

 

Read more at F4S

 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Fevers And Junk Like That?

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. ~Psalm 23:1, nkjv

 

Just got off the phone again with my exhausted 'lil brother, Kyle, who was sitting in a small LA hospital room with his sweet baby daughter, Peyton, who had a 107 degree temperature. He said she has a lot of wire hooked up to her right now that she keep trying to take off.  

 

Kyle and his wife Kim have not slept in a couple days and I have never seen them go through anything like this before. It really bugs me! I hate sickness. It's a result of the fall of man in sin. I just hate sin too!!!

 

Pretty scary for them.. I can only imagine what it feels like for them. They are there because Peyton had a convulsion last night when all this started to happen (please do pray for them, because although God has answered our prayers and the fever is now gone, the test results are not back yet).  

 

Have you ever cried out like I have at times saying something like, "Uhhhh Father God, I really need You this time bad. Please check us out in this mess and have mercy. Do you hear me? Do you really care for my family? I feel broken, beat up and crushed inside! God, please intervene this time because this uber-horrible-predicament is dealing with my loved one and I really can't bear to see them cry any more. Lord, Your Word says that You care for all of us the same and that You are the same, yesterday, today and forever. Please do what you have done before and heal. I just don't get it at all! Why is there so much junk happening down here. Please don't be passive—please do something now! With all due respect, I've always heard that you are in control of all the details of your children's lives. How could you allow this? Thanks for hearing me out. I expect."

 

Christ loves brutal honesty in prayer. Do you need some prayer for something?

 

Is a loved one that you know feeling ill? They matter just as much as Peyton to God. He loves us all and it breaks His heart when we suffer. Jesus weeps with us. Has something been bugging you for a long time ..or for a short time? Hey, Christ is your Answer no matter the problem. Express faith in God! Don't wait or try a bunch of stuff ahead of running to Him. Please let us know too. Thanks.
 
It doesn't matter what needs you have, the Lord came down here to earth to die in your place so you can know Him and His power! Christ came so He could become and remain your first love and meet all your needs!

 

Read more ..at F4S

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Awakening, Style Of Music, And Opening Our Eyes

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. — Colossians 3:16

Love that verse! It's talking about edification and worship with musical accompaniment.. yes, in the New Testament!

Where words fail, music speaks! ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. ~ Psalm 57:9

Come, Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise! ~ Robinson

With some random musings on prayer and what this Nation needs most, I've also been enjoying some new musak today. What kind do you listen to? You knew that musical instruments will be in heaven throughout all eternity right (See Rev. 14:2; 15:2). I got a negative comment about a certain style of music today ..regarding what was acceptable to God or not. I have a lot of exotic hand drums and like to play them in worship, but today I'm just listening.

There is a lot of confusion and bad teaching out there about the music Christians should or should not listen to. Was told today that the fresh techno-electronica style that I was enjoying wasn't right at all. My question in reply:

With all due respect sir, what is your Bible verse/passage on music to basically back up your incorrect statement that all techno is wrong for everyone (granted, it could be wrong for some people who maybe had a loose unholy lifestyle connected to some worldly subculture of secular techno music, but we Christians can also be so out of order at times to quickly impose our personal grey area convictions on other Christians who have different grey area convictions. And of course there are some non-negotiable things that the Bible is clear about i.e., no drunkenness).  

Bottom-line: God never created a sinful note. Isn't it the spiritual condition, the personal lifestyle and the specific lyrics in a song that determines if it's good or bad to listen to? Sure these are the parts that can influence people for good or for bad?

Personally, I'm not into listening to secular music with evil lyrics that encourage people to do what the Bible tells them not to do. Why should I tear down what God is trying to build up in me?

Like money, music is amoral—it can be used to glorify the Lord or to hurt Him. I won't tell you what style of music to listen to or avoid. You'll just have to pray about that for yourself. God's mouth still works.

I actually thinking that righteous musicians with right hearts and attitudes can be used of God to produce fishing bait if you will.. for say young people who can't stand tired moldy traditional church music.

I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.  Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations. ~ David, Psalm 108:1-3

There's wondrous music in my soul since Jesus' blood has made me whole; now my heart sings His songs of praise for all His blessings all my days. ~Hess

I was reading in Habakkuk 3:1 today with says, "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth" (Psalm 7). Man, do you know what that Old Testament word.. Shigionoth ..really means?

Hint: The Amplified Bible says this can be translated as: "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to wild, enthusiastic and triumphal music." or good rendering could be with "wild enthusiasm"! Sure, why not?

Habakkuk was earnest for God, for the things of God and for God's genuine revival. He was basically pleading, Lord, renew.. in our day! Do you need renewal, awakening or genuine revival? Sounds like the prophet was expecting the Lord's so called manifest presence or His intervention to come with great glory! Man, isn't it indeed time for that?

People groups and people are different. Vanilla Chucky Monkey ice cream doesn't appeal to everyone! I say it's time to boldly use different styles of music, sports, other skills (i.e, your social networking savvy) to uncompromisingly to bless the Lord! I say we use this stuff more for the Kingdom and for harvesting! Too many Christians today are sitting on their blessed assurance watching TV for 8 hours a day, focused on finding something wrong with other Christians, when they could be focused on the Lord and obeying His Great Commission and Greatest commandment! Are you too passive and distracted? I was born in Southern California during the fiery days of a real revival called the Jesus Movement and it was marked by wonderful contemporary music (in fact Church historians say this was the last revival to his our American shores). And I say it's time for another great spiritual revival/awakening that includes excellent music etc ..yes, that's fully biblical in its expression! I invite you to pray with me for God to do it again!

There have been three spiritual Awakenings in America earlier. You need to prayerfully study about the 1st Great Awakening from 1740 to 1743 with Jonathan Edwards and Whitefield. Edwards clearly preached and explained the Gospel to sinners who were instantly blessed with deep conviction that was accompanied by true confession, forsaking of sinful habits—repentance—and faith towards God! There are no better gifts for us and salvation is still God's greatest miracle!

The young humble Anglican preacher George Whitefield was also used of God to spark a spiritual (not merely religious) conflagration during this period. Whitefield already had a good reputation as a sound pulpit and open-air orator of truth. He actually traveled throughout the colonies from 1739 and 1740 serving well. Everywhere Jesus led Whitefield, the Spirit attracted large crowds and he would faithfully cast the net, seeing countless irreligious people won to faith in Christ. God did it and like Edwards, Whitefield gave the glory to Him.

Man, the First Great Awakening led to wonderful changes in American colonial society! It affected things for a long time. It was so cool! In New England, the Great Awakening was quickly and powerfully influential among the Congregationalists. In the Middle and Southern colonies, especially in those "Backcountry" regions of this Land, the Awakening was impacting and influential among the Presbyterians. In the southern Tidewater and so called Low Country, there were zealous but balanced northern Baptist and Methodist preachers fishing and winning both whites and blacks to Jesus Christ. Yes both, enslaved and free.. becoming spiritually F-R-E-E!

Then you need to go read about the 2nd Great Awakening that went from 1790 to 1840 and then beyond to 1860. It was another time of massive spiritual revival that extended into the antebellum period of the United States, with widespread winsome Christian evangelism happening. Sure, wanna see this happen again. I pray, "Here, now.. please forgive us of our iniquities and "progressive"-bloody wickedness that we quickly justify. Do it again Lord. Send what's real. What am I to do or believe? Lord do save the elect and then elect some more today! Let me honestly testify, accurately witness, sincerely sow seeds, diligently water and reap. People are so valuable and the time is short. Let me have a small part in this.. any size you want really, but do get all the glory and please start right now!"

"Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters.. so our eyes look to the Lord our God…" ~ Psalm 123:2

My Prayer: Father God we need a full-on awakening here! Touch now our sleepy eyes and make em clear. Cozy-warm feels with this dangerously deep slumber. We've toiled too long.. we've striven with men too long.. we've organized, planed and caucused far too long ..in the flesh.. just to make it all happen for good. Wood, hay and stubble kindling! Wanting to please You sure, but it's also kind of been for our own advantage. How religious and wrong, but we turn from it! Make us more than aware and awake if you dare, but first of all spiritually, under your watchful care!

Man, you've already read about Charles Grandison Finney I'm sure, but have you read about Lyman Beecher, Barton Stone, Peter Cartwright, and Asahel Nettleton? They were all used of the Spirit to fish for souls with passion! Evangelical participation was encouraged for all Christians and American life in areas such as prisons, abolitionism, and temperance were changed. The two results of real revival and awakening are unity and division. Real Spirit born Christians unify tightly together in fellowship and they also divide themselves away from all worldliness and evil (not from those in the world they are trying to compassionately reach).

New movements of churches were formed that became denominations. Some of them were the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. And as I'm sure you already know this cultural/spiritual phenomenon also contributed to massive growth in non-denominational churches even with the huge multi-site churches that we are seeing today. What was changed long-term? American society and church life were transformed. What else? Well, prisons filled with base and rebellious people that in Christ simply quit rebelling. Also the ongoing care of the handicapped and mentally ill people changed as a result. Question: What cults (i.e., the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science people, Unity etc), or even secular intuitions have ever brought something so good like this about, here in America? None of em. God did a work through Spirit-controlled Bible believing Christians and He wants to use you too! I love good education, but what politics or higher learning has ever brought this kind of good about? America needs Christ the most.. ahead of all other things today! We've got to get back to Him and what He says in the Bible!!!

Then go read about the 3rd Great Spiritual Awakening! It brought with it not only the Gospel being preached, it also brought practical Christian activism into American history like never before. The awakening happened from 1857 to 1859 and even into the early 1900s. It affected pietistic Protestant church movements and denominations powerfully and it worked its way out as a natural (or should I say supernatural) outgrowth into many good social works that helped the poor and then onto different mission fields. New groupings of believers also emerged, such as the Holiness movement and the Nazarene movements. Jesus Christ was exalted and magnified as He always should be and guess what.. great music of several different styles were also used along with relevant Gospel proclamation!

Read More At F4S

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More of Hanauma Bay on the southeast shore of Ohau in Hawaii today.

Posted via email from kurt's posterous

Hanauma Bay

I'm on the phone with my brother a local surfer in Hawaii who is about to go down the hill and go swimming at Hanauma Bay on the southeast side of the island of Ohau. Kinda windy, but warm and once you go in the water you are surrounded by colorful fish called Parrot fish aka Uhu.

Posted via email from kurt's posterous

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holidays Can Be Very Hard For Many People

Yup, this can be a difficult season of the year for a whole lot of people. Some people have loved ones they've tried to reach out to.. who repeatedly resisted all this and have simply drifted far away due to wrong-close-friend-choices, selfishness or pride. For others, their battles and painful struggles are with failing health, basic lack, neglect, broken families, and other severe trials that only seem to be hugely amplified during the Christmas season.  I hate that!!! Sweet TV show after show, movie after movie, and Christmas song after song played on the radio ..can make the opposite kind of non-painful circumstances seem like the norm that is happening for all but you who are literally in a bad way.


Surely He (Christ) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. —Isaiah 53:4


Whenever darkness grips your soul and you are tempted to despair,
Remember Christ's unfailing love, and trust His faithful, tender care.
  —Sper


 Jesus Christ is the only way to an oasis of deeply comforting saving grace in a dry barren-lonely desert of grief!


To me it seems like it would be much easier for some people to express thankfulness during Thanksgiving than it would be for others to do this, and we all just need to be sensitive to this. Is that you? What has your life been like? Do you need some prayer due to a recent ..or not so recent.. job-loss or some very hurtful unexpected reversals relationally or in some other area? I am so sorry if that is you.. and wish so badly that I had some words that could somehow help or comfort you.


During this time of year, church ministers often read Isaiah's prophecies of the coming Christ (that we're no longer supposed to talk about in America anymore for PC tolerance's sake..) the sinless One who would be born of a virgin (See Isa. 7:14) and was actually called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6). But listen, maybe it would be a good thing for us to also include the words of Isaiah 53 (or the whole book for that matter..) in our reading along ..which describes Jesus as, "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… And by His stripes we are healed" (vv.3-5). Why? Because those words minister to the hurting who wonder who can even relate to them, but they also speak of God's solution.


Man, I am so thankful that the psalmist who penned Psalm 147:3 also reminds us that "[The Lord] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." He can do this for you and make you a new person! About an hour ago today my wife Liney learned that her aunt Joann, who had an extremely hard life, just passed away. She suffered some broken relationships in her lifetime like many women have ..against her will.. and now will be missed.


She wasn't even that old, but Joann was hit real hard while driving up in the northwest back in July, then got a hip replacement, stayed in the hospital all this time ..and just went home to heaven. Yes, fortunately she had experienced the second birth, becoming a Christian later on in life and was totally ready to go home. Of many it's said that they went home to heaven, but because of the cross Joann really did cuz she had made her reservations in advance.


Now, no more trouble or sorrow or tears or worries or tribulation for Joann! Sadly not all are ready today, but all could ..in a moment become ready! Will you?
 

Please pray as the Spirit leads you for Liney, her twin sister Laurie, her younger brother Neil, and Carrol Wilson Liney's other aunt who has been very kind to us over the years. Thank you and keep thanking God.


We can even be ready to give an answer to curious relatives we thought were closed ..but might surprise you at the table in front of that steaming turkey. Maybe you have a few moments free to read more at Fish4Souls.org

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thinking 'Bout The Holiday That Many Overlook


Which holiday is your favorite? I like Easter (Ress day) the best. I'd be a mess without that day having happened! Which one is not the one that brings in the most bucks to town for merchants? You got it, and that's the one right around the corner for us all. Are you and yours ready to celebrate this holiday? I am! You wouldn't even believe how great my wife can cook. Yikes! And she is known all around for her incredible pies. But if I ever get feeling down, I simply start thanking the Lord outloud and it isn't long before I see how blessed I really am. I think it is very difficult for any Christian to feel like complaining long when they chose to be grateful out loud to the Lord (and I don't mean that there is never a time to complain about something ligitimate to the right people in authority). Let's start now and be thankful this Thanksgiving Season OK.  



Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, 
giving thanks to His Name. ~Hebrews 13:15 


Perhaps you don't feel quite like thanking the Lord right now. Perhaps you need to get some junk off your chest in prayer that's been bugging you for a long time? I say go for it and then thank Him (See Phil. 4:6). Come on let's face it, there's been a lot going on in the last couple weeks in Washington, in your town, in my town etc (I won't go into how I feel about all that has played out right now). But just the same ..amidst all the bogus stuff.. there are many things we can still enthusiastically thank the Lord for. We don't have to wait until we get "in the mood" to thank the Lord, for we are to do that "IN" all circumstances ..all year long (not "FOR" all the circumstances we face, cuz frankly not all of em are what should be happening..). We are to give thankst to God as we honestly express such gratitude IN Jesus Christ. God the Father hears us because of the cross and so that's the first thing that I am grateful for. I thank God for the resserection too.. and for my wife.. for our health, for our friends--yes you being there! I thank God that we live in a Nation where we can evangelize and preach the Gospel without going to jail. Who knows how much longer we will be able to do this legally. I thank God that He has an eternal purpose for you and I being here still, but I also thank Him that the rapture of the Church.. where Christians will be caught away in a flash.. could happen today! I thank God that praising Him in healthy too.


Billy Graham once said, "Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness."

A grumbling mood of discontent gives way to thankfulness
When we consider all God's gifts and all that we possess. —Sper 


Really, let's choose ..in spite of it all, no matter what you're facing today.. to be thankful people in the Lord! Here's a couple Thanksgiving poems that I enjoyed today and thought you might also like.. 


For beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family,
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days. ~Mary Fairchild 


Here's another one.. 


Lord, so often times, as any other day
When we sit down to our meal and pray


We hurry along and make fast the blessing
Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing


We're slaves to the olfactory overload
We must rush our prayer before the food gets cold


But Lord, I'd like to take a few minute more
To really give thanks to what I'm thankful for


For my family, my health, a nice soft bed
My friends, my freedom, a roof over my head


I'm thankful right now to be surrounded by those
Whose lives touch me more than they'll ever possibly know


Thankful Lord, that You've blessed me beyond measure
Thankful that in my heart lives life's greatest treasure


That You, dear Jesus, reside in that place
And I'm ever so grateful for Your unending grace


So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You've provided
And bless each and every person invited Amen! ~Scott Wesemann  


Please do have a great holiday; a prayerful one where you obey the promptings of the Spirit! He might ask you to share your own story with a relative or lonely friend, of how you came to faith in Christ. Remember, you won't be alone.. not even one day. OK, enough preachyness from me! Please remember to pray for the Zollenger family who lost Bill recently. Got a moment for a few more thoughts from my ole pastor Greg regarding this holiday? He can say it so much better than I.   



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Hearing the Spirit of the Lord

Hi face to face and e-Friends. Just about to get on the road home, but had some thoughts on something I like to always remind myself about regarding priorities. Don't know about you, but I can so easily get my priorities so outta whack fast if I'm not careful. Do you strive to have right priorities, but forget to deal with the most important one of all? Don't mean to be a pessimist really, but unfortunately too many these days do and that is one reason why our beloved nation has been getting out of whack. Well, be encouraged.. fixing this prob starts with one at a time. Look in the mirror OK and I will do the same.


On Hearing Him

Speak, for Your servant hears. —1 Samuel 3:10

I love reading about God's seer, Samuel, and how the Bible describes the way he learned to listen to and basically detect the most important voice of all -- the voice of the Spirit of the Lord calling Him (See 1 Samuel 3).

I have sadly seen many people get too busy serving the Lord in my day (you too?), I mean too busy ..like that in and off its self was noble.. to continue spending time alone with the Lord. It's religious and wrong. I've watched how some dear and generous Christian friends became very frustrated inside ..wanting to accomplish more.. wanting to be more.. so they kept taking on more and more responsibilities, more of a work load. Yes, until they lost their devotional time in God's presence and then lost the fruit of the Spirit which is love.

Personally, I too can so easily get distracted and become a "reactor" to daily happenings and demands that pop up in my face (yup, reacting [instead of wisely acting] in the flesh rather than in the Spirit of compassion), I guess wanting to be more pleasing to the Lord via works.. wanting to be a better soul-winner via push n shove (Who Kurt? Aww never!). And I find out that I am not good.. that there is One who is good. I have fallen on my face blundering more than I feel like admitting, but really knowing the Lord is better than knowing mere service of the Lord, but I quickly forget as I start watching others ...and that's why I need to be reminded.  

Yes, when my day gets off to a Starbucks kind of start, the most important thing for me is to get up early enough to go be with Jesus and just listen to His Word ..and get real with Him about all that's on in my heart and mind. Gotta let His thoughts seep into the depths of my being so I can walk in peace. Don't get me wrong, we all can hear from the Lord as we stay in contact with Him and serve Him all day long.. and we should stay in touch constantly! But my point is that Christian activity will never replace focused devotional time of adoration before Him.This is nothing new. The need is still so great in this area though.


Do you remember how Sam back in the day, prayed saying, "Speak, for Your servant hears" (v.10). Do you remember how consistent and victorious he was in his daily life—such a great representative for his Lord! He was a real hero, letting the people of Israel know what God was really like because he spent time with God. Sure they watched him just like they are watching you. Do your coworkers know that you are a believer yet? That's exactly how I want to be—consistent like Samuel! It was no three religious steps and some holy sounding formulaic type of prayer that Samuel spouted regularly; it was pure honesty from a supernaturally natural kind of love relationship that is very hard to describe unless you've experienced it first hand. How glorious just to think about such vertical harmony! You can have this too! God wants you to.

I'm convinced that Word-input (into your heart i.e., hearing God's voice with a humble heart to obey Him) coupled with wise application of God's Word ..is in direct correlation to victory outflow for any Christian (See Ps. 119:11 and 165). That's why you need the Bible when you pray and listen. This Book will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from this Book! There's just way too much presumption in the area of listening to God out there. 

Q: In the so called human family, what is our first priority in life (and that goes for the Christian as well as for any other person sucking air on this big planet, because basically we've all been bought at a price and none of us belong to ourselves)?

Is it doing good works to help other people or the environment?

Is it caring for our families and our relatives?

Is it serving at church or in the communities where we each respectively dwell?

A: No. it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, and your soul! (Deut. 6:5). Yup, for He is ever the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! (Heb. 11:6). And that includes full commitment and fully believing upon His holy Name, as well as tasting the true manna from heaven! Yup, as well as partaking of the true Bread of life, the very Son of the living God! Who? That's Jesus Christ, the One and only.. the Bible Jesus. This is the One you need most. How can you or I expect to hear from or know a Person we never spend time with?

Jesus alone is the One who can properly care for and sustain you forever! He is the One.. by His Spirit.. who can meet all your needs while temporarily here on this Terra Frima, and has a good plan for your life to be ever caught up in union with His.. from life to death and then on into glory everlasting in Heaven! Excitamente--can hardly wait! I don't know what kind of reputation you have or how much you have blown it in the past (we've all done some of that jive--sinning needs to be avoided. If you commit sin, the simply repent of it—living a life of repentance from that point on). Christ is the One who wants to forgive you, can forgive you, give to you a white stone and a new name!

Nothing beats simply sitting at his feet and by the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice as we meditate upon the Word of God! Nothing surpasses our time spent with Jesus! And hearing from the Lord right ..is so radically important! Jesus' sheep hear His voice, so have you given your life over to be His sheep yet? Think about it, can you imagine how it would have been if the prophet Samuel missed the will of God and didn't hear correctly as God was directing him to anoint the second Jewish king of Israel? It was critical. Saul really blew it big time and Samuel was standing there looking at the brothers and actually about to choose Eliab the older brother of ruddy David (See 1 Sam.16:6). Fortunately Sam didn't and heard right. God told him, "Do no look at his appearance or at physicaly stature" (See 1 Sam. 16:12). We so often go by what we see in this world, but we aren't to lean to our own understanding. We are to lean on Christ! Nothing surpasses hearing the voice of the Chief Shepherd ever!

No evangelistic efforts…

No church programs…

No social help with a club or any practical deeds of horizontal love!

That's why we praise His name and rejoice, it because the Bless-er is far better than any of His blessings ..and those really are so bad! It's just that He's so GOOD!

"Blessed indeed are those ears which listen not for the voice sounding without, but for the truth teaching inwardly. Blessed are the eyes that are shut to outward things but intent on things inward. Blessed are they who are glad to have time to spare for God, and who shake off all worldly hindrances. Consider these things, O my soul, and hear what the Lord your God speaks." ~Thomas à Kempis 1379-1471

By feeding on Your blessed Word, dear Lord, I will no longer weak and childish be;
And as I listen to Your Spirit's voice, may Christlike love and grace be seen in me. —Hess

"Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it" (Rev. 2:17, nlt).

God speaks by His Spirit through His Word to those who open their hearts to listen. Will you hear Him when He calls you?

Got a few minutes for some good music?