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The Journey continues. Are you in?

Hey I haven’t posted here, but my wife and I are keeping up with our daily readings. I hope you are, too!

Here are today’s readings:

EXODUS 10:1-12:13
MATTHEW 20:1-28
PSALM 25:1-15
PROVERBS 6:6-11

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Route 66 – January 3

Here is the reading list for today:

GENESIS 5:1-7:24
MATTHEW 3:7-4:11
PSALM 3:1-8
PROVERBS 1:10-19

Today’s reading in Genesis might seem dry. However, it establishes a very important heritage – from Adam to Noah. This is important historical data that helps prove the validity of the scripture.

Here’s a great 10 minute video by Lee Strobel concerning the validity of the scripture (you’ll learn a lot by this debate):

Matthew’s reading introduces John the Baptist. Can you imagine being alive back then and seeing John baptize Jesus?

By the way – Proverbs are full of tidbits and treasures of wisdom. I love reading through Proverbs each day.

Keep up with the reading – we’re going to read the entire Bible in a year!

Peace,

e

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Freedom from the Powers of this World – Colossians 2

You can hear Paul’s concern and love for this church at Colossae.

It’s really not rocket science. I love how Paul puts it simply:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (vs 6-7)

And, just like with Paul’s letters to other churches, this letter warns against false teaching and religious rules.

If God’s word says it once, we need to obey. But this whole idea of freedom in Christ is preached over and over and over again – especially by Paul. Afterall, he was once one of the most highly regarded of the religious establishment. Perhaps thats why he is so adamant about it.

Bottom line is: don’t waste time and effort following what man says – but rather focus on what God is telling you to do/not do. It’s not about looking righteous, it’s about spiritual battle. We need to focus on what will help us in conquering our evil desires and building our lives on Christ.

So what do we do that makes us feel righteous? Do we do things in order to appear religious? Do our thoughts during worship include “I wonder what people will think if I raise my hands during worship” or “look at that person over there, thinking they are so righteous by raising their hands during worship”? Do we care more about what others will think before we start to talk about Jesus or church with someone at work or in the grocery line? What things do we do hoping someone is watching so we will appear religious?

Do we have complete freedom or do we still try to follow socially or politically correct human rules? I like what Paul says in verses 20 – 23:

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

He has set us free from the powers of this world. That’s something to focus on today.

peace,
e

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Circumcision of the Heart -Pilippians 3

I find myself back in a dBrag again. We are reading through Philippians and today, it’s chapter 3.

Interesting comments from Paul about the Judaizers. They often called Gentiles “dogs”. Paul throws this name right back at them. His comments about circumcision are due to the fact that the religious Jews felt that you had to be physically circumcised in order to follow God. It was a source of pride. One of Paul’s frequent messages was that God prefers circumcised hearts more than flesh. Paul went as far as to say it was unnecessary and here calls them flesh mutilators because their fleshly circumcision is meaningless as far as God is concerned.

I read somewhere that Paul used clever language here. He took their favorite word “peritome” (circumcision) and changed it to “katatome” (mutilation). I can’t wait to meet Paul some day. I like his style!

How many things do we do “in the name of God” that, because of the condition of our heart, are meaningless? God knows our heart, our motives.

peace,
e

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Standing on Holy Ground

Recently, I was blessed to be able to attend WTBN‘s Pastor Appreciation Luncheon with my Sr. Minister and Youth Minister from First Christian Church of Seminole. I was double blessed to hear the keynote speaker, Dr. R. C. Sproul. This was my first time hearing Dr. Sproul in person and I was not disappointed.

One of the things that caught my attention early on in Dr. Sproul’s message was his conversation with Bill Hybels 35 years ago, before Willow Creek Church in Northwest-suburban Chicago was started. Dr. Sproul recalled Bill telling about how they took a survey among locals who admitted to being unchurched. When asked why, people responded: (1) they didn’t like being bugged for money; (2) they found church boring, predictable, and routine; (3) they didn’t think that the church was relevant to their lives; and (4) they always left church feeling guilty (the Christian message too negative with ‘sin,’ etc.).”

Dr. Sproul recounted how his response to Mr. Hybels was, “make sure people are overwhelmed by the presence of God. Otherwise, everything is a huge waste of time.”

That’s why I love about my local church, First Christian Church of Seminole. There is definitely something uncommon and special from the moment you walk in. People are friendly and caring – it’s more of a family atmosphere. It’s certainly not boring or predictable. You never know what to expect! And, Andy’s messages are always relevant and engaging, but with a positive message that inspires and challenges rather than beats down.

My spirit concurred as Dr. Sproul went on to explain that what we do on Sunday mornings is not supposed to simply entertain people, but to usher them into the presence of God Himself. And, this is something that only God Himself can accomplish. How God uses the hearts of those on the platform, including the musicians and the ministers, to touch people with a message of hope and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is nothing short of miraculous. But, without this supernatural transformation, without God’s prompting and filling and drawing others to Himself, church would be boring and irrelevant.

I am reminded of a familiar passage in Hebrews chapter 10: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT).

I pray you have a similar church family where you can belong and be engaged. I encourage you to be thankful for what God has given you as a fellowship of believers. I encourage you to cherish and support your time spent at your local church as precious and holy-ground. Look for opportunities to serve and to invite others to join us as we meet and grow in our faith together. Life can quickly get busy with irrelevant activities, but meeting together as followers of Christ is most certainly not irrelevant. Time is short. Christ’s return is soon.

Worship Him!

e

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I Am Yours! Black lights & white gloves…

It’s still one of my favorite songs: Casting Crowns’ song “I Am Yours.” My sister sent me the link to a very creative video – black lights and white gloves. Check it out:

God’s peace,
e

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“Be Fearless.” – My Sweet Message from Dad

Dove Chocolates - “Be Fearless.” - My Sweet Message from DadIf you’ve been reading my last few posts, they have to do with fears that God is stirring up in me due to the series my church is going through right now called “The Plunge: Faith in Action.”

We even talked about it last night at worship rehearsal. God reminded me last night that the Bible says “Do not fear” exactly three-hundred-sixty-five times. That’s one for every day!

I’ve really been praying and trying to understand what God is asking of me concerning these newly discovered fears.

That’s why I love Him so much – because He won’t leave me to deal with the junk and the baggage on my own. He’d rather bring it to the surface and cause me to deal with it – and get rid of it.

Anyway – you won’t believe it, but today I got a personalized message from the Lord. A co-worker recently got married and he left everyone in our department one of the clever gift boxes they gave wedding attendees. Inside the box were two little Dove chocolate candies – you know, the ones with the message on the inside of the wrapper.

Guess what mine said:

Be Fearless - Dove Chocolate Wrapper - “Be Fearless.” - My Sweet Message from Dad

 

You may think this is just some kind of cosmic coincidence. You may be right. I prefer, however, to think that my God, who created the entire universe and all that’s within it, has time enough to find ways to communicate with me personally.

God is good.

Thanks, Dad, I needed that.

peace,
e

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Facing Your Fears – Going Deeper with God (Part 1)

Two boys jumping off dock - Facing Your Fears - Going Deeper with GodThe pastor at our church, Tim Whipple, has been doing a series on “The Plunge: Faith in Action.” It’s all about jumping in and going deeper with God.

God has used this series to really stir up a number of things in me. That’s what I love about my God the most – He loves me too much to just let me sit here with my baggage and my fears. I’m starting to realize that I’m still dealing with so many fears. So much of the baggage and junk left in my life has a lot to do with fear.

I remember when I first moved to Florida in 1992. Living so close to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world meant that friends, family and co-workers would often invite me to the beach – which would inevitably lead to … swimming in the ocean. I’d begin to realize my anxiety as I start out into the water. As I got about knee deep the anxiety would become very noticeable and would increase as I continued into deeper water. By waist-deep, I’d be near panicked.

Friends and co-workers would call me to come deeper and all I could say was, “No, I’m good,” and smile and wave.

I was afraid. I was embarrassed.

You see, I spent most of my life in the mid-West, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Indiana. I didn’t make it to the beach much – and I was okay with that! When I did go, terrible things seemed to happen to me.

One of my first memories is when I was about four or five years old. I remember walking along in the shallows watching the water around my ankles come in and go out. I was fascinated by all the little crabs that buried themselves in the sand. With my back to the ocean, facing the crowded beach on a beautiful Saturday morning I was unaware of the huge wave that was coming at me from behind (well, huge for a five year old anyway). I was slammed down to the ground, my face buried in the sand. As the wave returned to sea, it took my bathing suit with it. I remember standing up in shock, covered with damp sand from head to toe, naked in front of the astonished crowd.

I was afraid. I was embarrassed.

sea liceA few years later at South Padre Island, I came out of the water to discover something all over my body that I didn’t even know existed – sea lice! My parents, sister and a even few strangers at the beach were all picking these things off of me by the hundreds – each time creating a red mark and a small welt.

And, there are other stories about me near water, including a near death experience or two. The bottom line is – I was very afraid of the ocean.

So, after living with the fear and embarrassment in Florida for a while, I remember one day getting tired of being afraid and embarrassed. And I decided to face my fears head on. I decided to take S.C.U.B.A diving lessons.

To make a long story short, I loved it! That feeling of floating in the sea – it felt like I was flying! And, the peaceful, tranquil sound of bubbles escaping to the surface as I breathed out of my regulator. It was better than anything I had experienced in my life!

And, the amazing sights! The coral reefs blew my mind. I’d never seen so much vivid color, coral and fish and bizarre creatures of every kind were everywhere – every square inch teaming with life. I ended up setting up a salt-water aquarium in my home so I could watch the action for hours. I pursued SCUBA with everything. I took classes to become certified diver, rescue diver, night diver, nitrox diver. I purchased my own equipment and went diving every chance I got.

Then, one day I realized that had I not decided to face my fears, I would have missed out on all this. I would have never known the beauty and thrill that existed beneath the surface of the ocean. I would have continued living with my fears and embarrassment – and, I would have survived – but not as well off, somehow. I would never have known to what extent my Creator went into for my enjoyment.

And, that’s how it is with some people and their relationship with God. I know people living in fear of “going deeper” with God. They dip their toes in the water, maybe even wade along the beach (just be careful of those waves that sneak up behind you!), but they never jump in all the way.

Where are you? Are you dipping your toes in? Are you swimming around, but afraid to go out “too deep”? Or would you rather just stay home and avoid the beach all together?

Tomorrow, I will discuss what it means to go “deeper with God.”

peace,
e

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

Fish on Car - A Case of Mistaken IdentityAs Christians, we’re to be a light in this world. People are watching you whether you care to believe it or not. Especially if you identify yourself as a Christian.

Here’s a funny my friend sent me that made me think:

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ License plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper Sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.

“Naturally…I assumed you had stolen the car.”

Priceless…!

If you can’t control yourself, do us all a favor and remove any Christian symbols from your car!

Be a light today!

peace,
e

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Who’s Your Favorite Superhero?

Who’s Your Favorite Superhero?My church is doing a series that relates spiritual aspects to current TV shows. This week’s message is about Heroes. I thought I’d just put it out there and see who responds:

Who’s your favorite superhero? And, why?

Or, if you prefer, if you could have any superpower, what would it be? And, why?

You can make it spiritual if you want, but you don’t have to…

peace,
e

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